Screeching Siren:

An Ode to Release in Maggie Rogers's Surrender

Words: Plum Luard
December 18, 2022

“I want to write a love letter. I want to write an ode to our blood.”

My sister gave me half of a quartz the night before I could not look her in the eyes as she hugged me goodbye.  Quartz is a stone infamous for its ability to erupt into a flash of light when struck together.  She told me we would charge them in the moonlight.  She told me she wanted to see the spark.  She smiled as she explained how two halves of a whole could light up the night.

She adjusts the knob.  “Track 6 — Be Cool” appears in bright orange letters, cutting through the darkness.

I start bobbing my head dramatically as the opening beat reverberates.  The driver’s side speaker is embedded in the door and my ankle is pressed up against the paneling.  I feel the thumping.  I feel it flowing through my blood.  I know she does too.  The beat lasts just a few seconds before the lyrics commence.

Needed a summer just to be a teenager drunk on the month of June.

“It sounds like a pool party.”  She says in a mockingly enthusiastic tone, the kind only a sister can manage to make endearing.  I tell her this every time the song resounds.  She tells me she hears it too.  Something about the tinny beat feels waterlogged and chaotic.  We rewind to hear the opening refrain again.  The scratches inflicted on the CD are a worthy sacrifice.

We love the way music unites us.  Its capacity to transcend the distance and divisions.  Our shared love of a song for entirely different reasons.  The tears shed seemingly for nothing.  The hours spent lying on the floor and listening.  The way we feel its power in our bones.

The quartz is nestled in my bare thighs.  I am clad in my underwear and a white tank top.  We did not bring towels out of fear of leaving evidence of our break and entry.  We had it down to a rhythm.

In the chaos of our summers my sister and I—balancing drastically different work schedules while grasping onto our childhood summer spell—had slipped into a routine.  Sneaking away to our neighbor’s pool to skinny dip any night we could.  We would blast Maggie Rogers—our only CD—and cut the stereo and the headlights just as we approached the driveway.  The momentary period of driving blind was overkill but we liked the way it made us feel extra rebellious.  And the way the moon took charge of illuminating the pavement.  The dim glow that felt like it was just for us.

“Take my hand now”

We begin to sing out the opening notes of “Track 11 — Symphony” as they float through the car, attempting to mimic the bliss that escapes from the speaker, but neither of us can hit the right pitch.  Neither of us cares either.

“Can you live like nothing’s left?”

When I met Maggie Rogers at a record signing this summer in New York City, I asked her what song on the record was best for skinny dipping.  I remember how her eyes sparkled as she looked up at me from her perch—as if her irises had been plastered with highlighter.  She opened up the record and skimmed through the tracklist with her fiery red polished index finger.

“Anywhere With You.”

The sharp gravel crunches under our soles as we sprint into darkness.  I hold the quartz in my hand.  I hold it outstretched.  Clutching it dearly.  Hoping to endow it with the glory of the evening.  A piece of our power I can capture.

The gate squeals.  The water sloshes in that beautifully tumultuous way.  Loud and uncontrollable.  Delicate and dainty.  The stars dot the sky and we crane our necks to admire the splattering of light.  The water stops moving.  The sound fades.  Silence.

We submerge together on the count of three.  Our hair takes on a life of its own—suspended eerily in the depths of the black water.  The differentiation in pigment is unnoticeable now, my blond tinge and her deep brown morph into the same drenched shade.  We reemerge to frigid sopping hair dripping down our backs.  I stare at the sky, release the weight from my ankles, and slip back into the depths.  The weightlessness consumes me—gravity gazumped.

I collect the quartz from the top of my haphazardly strewn clothing.  We make our way back giggling and slam the car doors triumphantly.  More giggling ensues.  “Track 7 — Shatter” glows. 

“I could break a glass just to watch it shatter.  I’d do anything just to feel with you.”

“You tell me you want everything, you want it fast.  But all I’ve ever wanted is to make something fucking last.”

The final chorus of “Anywhere With You” bounces through my body as I close my eyes and fight to cling to the magic of those nights.  A plea to make it all last.  Bathing in the light we had conjured.  Basking in the spark.  The spark we felt in our blood.  The spark that was just for us.  The song is my tether.  To the moon.  The music.  The majesty.  Maggie was right.

On the July 31st release of Surrender, Maggie, clutching the tequila shot that had passed from hand-to-hand from the bar to the stage, addressed the crowd swaddled in all white—flaunting the historical color of surrender.

“I have been a lightning rod of feeling tonight.”  This type of a refractive and electric and dangerous emotional release that categorized the show defines the album as well.  In an interview with Elle, Maggie explains, “I think surrender sometimes can be almost a little bit of a complicated word because it means giving up.  But for me, it’s about giving in, and it’s a really empowering feeling.”  She has dubbed her upcoming shows “The Feral Joy Tour” to honor the explosive catharsis imbued in her latest album.

The final refrain of “Anywhere With You” is an outpouring of desperation.  A cry to feel.  To seize back an inch of stolen emotion and being. 

I’ll go anywhere, I’ll go anywhere with you

I’ll go anywhere with you

Anywhere with you.

Anywhere with you.

Let’s go chase the spark.  Let’s watch it all erupt.

Illustration by Isabelle Greenewalt 






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