After listening through Olivia Rodrigo’s long-awaited sophomore album, GUTS, there’s one conclusion worth making: her pop-rock angst gives even her sad songs new life. Long gone is the SOUR crooner, spilling her heart across an 11-track ballad-driven confession. Instead, GUTS shows a lyrical prowess for brutal honesty and fun met with the same ear-shattering guitars.
The introduction track, “all-american bitch,” leaves sadness at the door. It’s reminiscent of Disney’s actress-turned-popstar days. There’s a nail-biting banger chorus laid with minimal verses. It also bears an eerie resemblance to Miley Cyrus’ 2007 hit “Start All Over.” In the song, the singer-songwriter pokes fun at American idealism with her imaginative lyrics. She sings of using Coca-Cola cans as hair curlers and resembling the Kennedys.
“I’ve always struggled with wanting to be this perfect American girl and the reality of not feeling like that all the time.”Olivia Rodrigo shares with The Gurrdian on “all-american bitch”
Upon announcing her music comeback, Rodrigo explained GUTS chronicles her past year being 19 as “a year “filled with lots of confusion, mistakes, awkwardness & good old fashioned teen angst.” After telling The New York Times of her affinity for rock music, she continues soaking the tracks in high-strung brooding material, especially on “get him back!,” and “love is embarrassing.” Rodrigo’s choral freak accident and out-of-place tempo change on the rager “ballad of a homeschooled girl” is somewhat cringy. However, perhaps the lyric “Each time I step outside, it’s social suicide” redeems it for being a universal experience.
“[I] always loved rock music, and always wanted to find a way that I could make it feel like me, and make it feel feminine and still tell a story and have something to say that’s vulnerable and intimate.”Olivia Rodrigo tells The New York Times
“Making the bed” and “pretty isn’t pretty” still have a nasty lick of rock compared to “logical,” “the grudge,” and “teenage dream.” But there’s something magical about the latter grouping of ballads. The major concern for many was the album being a carbon copy of SOUR. Thankfully, love isn’t the only thing pigeonholing its brilliance. Rodrigo’s self-critique and introspection soar on the tracks, adding many breather moments while validating her candidacy, which comes across as very tongue-in-cheek for the majority of GUTS.
In addition to the news of her new album, Rodrigo will perform at the MTV VMAs next Tuesday. She’s nominated for five different categories, including Video of the Year.