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The Power of Lizzy McAlpine’s Newest Album, “Older” 

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

Like she tends to do, Lizzy McAlpine, 24-year-old indie pop and folk singer-songwriter, has brought fans to tears with the release of her third studio album “Older” on April 5.

McAlpine’s popularity has grown rapidly since the release of her debut EP “Indigo” in 2018. McAlpine has since released two albums, “Give Me a Minute” in 2020 and “Five Seconds Flat” in 2022. 

McAlpine’s third studio album dives into the themes of grief, heartbreak and love as she learns to navigate the world as a young adult. Let’s take a dive into the meanings and sound of each of the 14 songs on the album.

“The Elevator”:

“The Elevator” is a very short and powerful beginning to the “Older” album. The song begins with a simple piano melody as McAlpine’s voice softly describes what it’s like to fall in love with someone quickly and be scared that the relationship isn’t going to last or is going to change. McAlpine thinks aloud and sings “I think we can make it, I hope that I’m right.” 

In the final 30 seconds, the beat of the song drops and a dramatic instrumental full of strings and drums leaves the audience time to dwell on the uncertainties of a relationship and the instability in falling for somebody.  

“Come Down Soon”:

“Come Down Soon” begins with McAlpine painting the picture of a happy couple as the listener can’t help but smile at the innocent interactions between her and her partner. 

Then, the chorus of the song reveals McAlpine’s true thoughts about the relationship, as she says that “it’ll come down soon, nothing this good ever lasts this long for me.” As McAlpine repeats “it’ll come down soon” over and over within the chorus, the reader gets the sense that McAlpine is trying to convince herself to not get her hopes up that the relationship will last. The song maintains a pretty quick drumbeat that gives the song an upbeat feeling that highly contradicts McAlpine’s thoughts about the impending doom of her relationship.  

“Like It Tends To Do”:

“Like It Tends to Do” gives the reader a melancholy feeling that contrasts from the upbeat nature of “Come Down Soon” as McAlpine writes about the awkward and confusing encounters that one has with an old romantic partner. She sings about reminiscing on the relationship that they once had together and how their interaction “feels exactly like it was, but at the same time it feels so different” and once again sings about how life will continue to change “like it tends to do.”

“Movie Star”:

McAlpine begins “Movie Star” by explaining how special she felt to her partner at the beginning of their relationship, saying she “feel[s] like a movie star in the leading role, famous to someone.” As time goes on, however, McAlpine begins to outgrow the relationship and wonders if she should begin prioritizing herself rather than a relationship. The simple guitar chords accompanied by gentle harmonies makes the reader feel like they are listening to McAlpine’s most private thoughts as she admits that she needs time to herself as “it’s getting old, being famous for someone.”

“All Falls Down”:

“All Falls Down” stands out on the album as it opens with an upbeat melody full of flutes, saxophones, guitar and drums. Despite its upbeat melody, McAlpine discusses the anxieties and pressures of being famous and getting older, stressing that she “can’t stop the time from moving and [she] can never get it back.” 

She explains how she lies to herself and everyone else that she’s okay while this anxiety “all falls down on [her] at the same time” and becomes very overwhelming to deal with. 


“Staying” is a song that dives into McAlpine’s experience in a toxic relationship. She speaks on how draining the relationship is, asking “what happens when you love me dry?” The listener feels pity for McAlpine because she is still uncertain whether  she should leave. She ends the song by asking her partner to “hold [her] until [she] find[s] the nerve” to leave the relationship, therefore ending the song not fully free from her toxic relationship and  the confines of a draining partner. 

“I Guess”:

“I Guess” explains McAlpine’s experience with bringing someone home after a night out. McAlpine “guess[es] it’s all about timing” as she continues to try to find emotional and romantic connections with new people. She sings about the awkwardness and clumsiness she still faces when exploring her feelings for somebody. 

The song grows from just a few simple guitar chords to including a drumbeat to then bringing in more string instruments and brass instruments on top of McAlpine’s harmonies. The growth in the music depicts the chaos that occurs as McAlpine tries “to love someone [she’s] never met” and begins the process of getting to know a romantic partner.

“Drunk, Running”:

Within “Drunk, Running”, McAlpine dives into the ups and downs of having a partner who is an alcoholic. She begins the song by describing her partner’s failed attempts at becoming sober and later worries, “what if it was all my fault? What if I drove you to it?” 

Later in the song, McAlpine apologizes for staying with them and continuing to enable their behavior, seemingly comparing her partner’s addiction to alcohol to her addiction to her partner. The song, which began with a simple piano melody, once again ends with a layered instrumental filled with piano, strings, drums, and McAlpine’s layered humming melodies. After the instrumental grows, McAlpine strips the music back to end the song just how it started, with a simple piano melody.

“Broken Glass”:

“Broken Glass” discusses the realities of being in a relationship where two people continuously hurt each other. The song begins with her finding “broken glass on the table” to use against her partner as her partner was the one who hurt her first. 

The song grows from a guitar melody to include strong drums as she raises her voice to say “it might seem like I love you, but I just don’t want to be alone.” The song stands out as one through which the listener can feel McAlpine’s anger and hurt towards her partner as she raises her voice from its usual soft, whisper-like tone.

“You Forced Me To”:

“You Forced Me To” is a song that McAlpine wrote about her partner forcing her to change throughout their relationship. She says “I am not the same as when you met me, I have changed because you forced me to.” 

McAlpine explains how she has committed crimes that her partner should hate her for, but they have continued to love her harder through the bad things that she’s done. She explains “I want you to hate me,” signaling that she is wanting to move on from the relationship, but her partner’s love is very strong and has never dwindled, no matter what she has done to drive a wedge between her and her partner.


The album’s title track follows McAlpine exploring her fears about time moving forward, even when she is not ready for it. She  describes how she feels “stuck in a loop,” commenting on the monotonous feeling as the days fly by. McAlpine continues to describe her nostalgia as time passes with the lines “over and over, watch it all pass, Mom’s getting older, I’m wanting it back.” 

These heartbreaking lines put into words the feeling of helplessly watching your parents grow old while wishing you could stay a little kid. This song tugs on the heart strings of the listener as McAlpine wishes she could go back to a simpler, happier time while uncertainly looking towards the future and all that it holds.

“Better Than This”:

“Better Than This” is backed by  a simple guitar melody as  McAlpine questions how well her partner really knows her. She sings as if she is talking directly to her partner when she says, “you don’t really know me at all now, I think that I’m not who you think I am.”

 McAlpine seems to be moving on from her relationship as she realizes within the chorus, “someone will love me better than this.” While she seems to fear the possibility of opening up to somebody new, she knows that her partner does not understand her anymore and therefore it might be time to move on to somebody else who better understands her.


“March” is a delicate, moving song that McAlpine wrote about her late father. “I just see him in everything,” McAlpine writes, showing how she cannot help but think of her father in everything that she does and everything that she sees. McAlpine comments on her experience with grief, and especially how grief comes in waves, when she says “so far away and then it hits you like it was yesterday.” The listener can’t help but feel McAlpine struggle with the grief of her father passing away as no matter how many years have passed, McAlpine continues to remember her father everyday.


“Vortex,” the album’s final song, once again discusses McAlpine’s experience within a toxic relationship. McAlpine begins by recognizing that both her and her partner are responsible for this toxic relationship and the pain and trauma that come with being in a toxic relationship.

She then looks forward to a future in which she can move on from this vicious cycle within the relationship. The simple piano melody then begins to build as McAlpine depicts one of her and her partners’ toxic fights.

McAlpine begins to belt when she sings “we’re just awful together and awful apart” as her desperation and frustration become clear to the listener. Her voice returns to its usual light tone as she sings “I don’t know what to do anymore,” signaling to the listener how hopeless she feels in her ability to get out of this cycle. 

The song ends with about two minutes of instrumental music which grows and swells to seemingly encapsulate the most important themes and feelings of the album, including grief, heartbreak, love, frustration, and fear, wrapping up the album in a way that allows the listener to feel these themes while also leaving the listener with a sense of hope for the future.

Overall, this is a great album to listen to if you ever want to feel less alone in your feelings of grief, heartbreak, and love. I think that everybody can relate to one of the many themes of this album. I definitely see myself listening to this album when reflecting on the past and thinking about the future.

Bella is a freshman at the University of Maryland majoring in journalism with a history minor. Bella is from Massachusetts and loves spending her free time traveling, thrifting, going to concerts, and spending time with friends and family!