Growing up in public can be tough. Going from being a television star to a multi platinum selling in seemingly a blink of a eye, puts a lot of pressure on you. No one saw the rapid rise of Olivia Rodrigo coming, but perhaps we should have. Drivers License was confident, heart wrenching and easily relatable, a prelude to SOUR, the pop album we all needed at that particular moment in time. With such success and the eyes of the world upon you, how do you possibly comprehend your next move? Well if your Olivia Rodrigo, you come out swinging and then some.
SOUR was an album about self discovery and learning to navigate the ever changing world of being a teenager. GUTS is a much more rebellious, free spirited album that revels in celebrating the more reckless and life defining moments of young adulthood along with all the associated learning curves.
The opening salva of the brash,emphatic all-american bitch, with all its 90s riot girl rock grit, and the earworm to end all earworms of bad idea right? kick this new era off in a fiesty fashion, the latter particularly feels like it should be on every soundtrack to every teen high school movie between now and the end of time.
vampire, the albums lead single is widescreen melodrama at its finest. Its gorgeous, sweeping and defiant with its refrain of “blood sucker, fame fucker, bleeding me dry like a goddamn vampire” it has a maturity to it that shows how far Olivia has come as a songwriter.
ballad of a homeschooled girl has a fuzzy lo fi sensibility to it, its not quite grunge, not quite pop. The sardonic lyrics and breathy vocals herald it as instant classic.
make the bed feels like it could the Drivers License of the GUTS era. A simple self aware ballad that sees Rodrigo reckon with her new life in the spotlight and the aforementioned pains of growing up in public. get him back! is a bratty revenge anthem shout out to an ex. It’s another fun, snarky banger that sees Olivia put her best revenge plans into motion. Its destined to be a live favourite, you can already hear crowds of sold out venues singing “I want sweet revenge, I want him dead, want to get him back” at the top of their lungs.
love is embarassing is pure 80s pop perfection. Its a dance around your kitchen singing badly with the windows open type of jam. Its one of the rare instances where the album goes pure pop and is a late highlight in the back half of the album.
the grudge is reminiscent of traitor from SOUR. Its a powerful ballad that paints a very stark image of an ailing relationship and the complicated feelings that come in the wake of it falling apart. Lyrically this is the albums crowning moment and one of the best songs Rodrigo has put out.
teenage dream the album closer feels like a companion piece to and also the complete opposite of all-american bitch. Its another reflective track on the album, wondering if this is all worth it and reconciling whether or not the public will grow tired of her and where she goes from here. Its a sombre way to end the album but its also a deeply personal one and gives you a real insight to where Olivia’s head at.
SOUR was always going to be a tough act to follow, but if there was pressure on Olivia Rodrigo’s head to one up herself here you would never know it. GUTS is a confident, focused and for the most part fun and celebratory album. It shows more lightheartedness and her playful side comes out a lot more on this album making it feel more hopeful than SOUR. There is also a real poignancy to the more emotional moments on the album which serve as the contract to the more upbeat songs.
Olivia Rodrigo continues to grow as a songwriter and she has taken everything she learned the first time and honed those skills to create a sublime and worthy follow up, that dare I say it…even betters the first album in many ways.
GUTS is out now via Geffen Records.