Reviews

Olivia Rodrigo “GUTS” Album Review

GUTS

Olivia Rodrigo

  • Genre: Pop
  • Date: 08 Sep, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Track(s): 12
  • ℗ 2023 Olivia Rodrigo, under exclusive license to Geffen Records

Olivia Rodrigo &Quot;Guts&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 20, 2024

The five-times-platinum smash hit single “Drivers License” was created by Olivia Rodrigo. Using a plastic representation of adulthood, she is the voice that captured the first heartbreak that left an irreparable wound. She is the megastar whose debut album Sour set a record for the longest-running debut album on the Billboard 200 top 10 this century. Her stardom is on the rise to Swiftian proportions. She is still a 20-year-old woman on the other side of this public baptism of fire. Although her growing pains are familiar to everyone, she writes from an unrelatable position of isolation on her second album, GUTS.

The American singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo’s second studio album, Guts, was released by Geffen Records on 8 Sep 2023. The album’s release was preceded by two singles, the first of which, “Vampire,” came out on 30 June 2023. It became Rodrigo’s third US number-one single when it debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100. On 11 Aug 2023, the second single, “Bad Idea, Right?” was made available. In both the US and UK, it peaked at number 10.

Album Art

Olivia Rodrigo &Quot;Guts&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, May 20, 2024

The Album Art sees Olivia pose for the camera with an evident sultry energy, wearing a red lipstick and a frilly black dress. She has a finger to her lips, covering the remaining fingers with rings that spell out the album’s name, GUTS.

Tracks And Features

GUTS is an exorcism of thoughts we’d rip out of our diaries in a flush of red-faced shame and a visceral depiction of the inherited gore of womanhood. Rodrigo expresses age-related opinions in a few of these new songs, considering the threshold between adolescence and adulthood, without creating anything as sentimental as a full-fledged “not a girl, not yet a woman” anthem. In the song “All-American Bitch,” which is a rocker and features her embracing a not-so-resting bitchface for shits and giggles, she sings, “I know my age, and I act like it.” Rodrigo’s lyrics in “All-American Bitch” showcase her unapologetic attitude and self-awareness, as she confidently acknowledges her age and behaves accordingly. This rebellious anthem challenges societal expectations and stereotypes, empowering listeners to embrace their authentic selves without conforming to societal norms. Rodrigo’s boldness and authenticity shine through in this energetic rock song, solidifying her as a fearless artist unafraid to express herself.

In that humorous opening line, the singer is being somewhat ironic. However, she has nailed a significant component of what makes her so appealing: much of her work has been blatantly about being a teenager without trying to sound overly experienced before her time. “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl” is a contender for the year’s most ballsy song title, and the semi-self-effacing rudeness continues. Hearing the song, a tribute to Nirvana and a take on terminal social awkwardness is not a letdown.

“I got the things I wanted/It’s just not what I imagined,” she dares to express in “Making the Bed”. It’s the kind of ballad we’ve come to expect from Rodrigo but elevated with her own restless, white-knuckled pacing. When its cathartic, guitar-driven crescendo ties your heart in knots, it’s clear that her gift for indulging in end-of-the-world melodrama remains.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Rodrigo teamed up again with Sour producer Dan Nigro for this album. This record maintains the lilac-hued aesthetic of its predecessor and doesn’t feel like a musical departure either; instead, it’s a second swing that has been strengthened by maturity and underlined by cynicism. While Rodrigo submits to a little more chaos in GUTS than Sour, portrayed in wounded, softer strokes, the former Disney star liberally uses f-bombs in an admittedly predictable move.

Avril Lavigne’s Noughties spirit is again evoked in the song “All-American Bitch,” as it abruptly switches from proper country verses to a whiplash-inducing chorus. It’s not how it sounds, but rather what she says—or in this case, how she says it—that matters, as with much of this album. Lavigne’s unique vocal delivery adds a rebellious edge to the lyrics, perfectly capturing the unapologetic attitude of the song. This unexpected contrast between musical styles and her distinctive voice showcases her ability to push boundaries and create a memorable listening experience.

However, the song’s unsettling conclusion grabs you by the collar as Rodrigo struggles against the expectations that suffocate her as a young woman. She sings in a heavenly, almost hymnal voice, “All the time, I’m grateful all the time (all the f***-ing time)/I’m sexy, and I’m kind/I’m pretty when I cry.” She is most brilliant when Rodrigo spits out the bitter pills she is expected to swallow when her particular rage assumes subversive musical forms.

The endearing song “Get Him Back!” capitalizes on the ambiguity of its title: Does she intend to “get him back” as an act of retaliation or as a means of regaining his love? It’s both, as the wordplay in the song demonstrates: She makes one of the most blatantly contradictory statements in pop music when she says, “I want to key his car; I want to make him lunch.” She squeals, “I want to meet his mom just to tell her her son stinks.” Writing a song this soft requires a strong woman.

Rodrigo indulges in theatricality because she doesn’t mind giving a great line-read. A pop-punk anthem called “Bad Idea, Right?” is fueled by bathroom rumours. Rodrigo’s talent for nuanced vocal delivery adds comedic flair to a painful excavation of growing up.

In many instances in “Guts,” Rodrigo tries to be a spoiled brat and succeeds admirably. But wisdom also transforms her: In “The Grudge,” she sings, “Hurt people hurt people, and we both drew blood, but man, those cuts were never equal,” deftly juggling therapy speak with a sense of defensive pride. The song “Making the Bed” might be Rodrigo’s most significant step toward more mature self-realization. In favour of the idea that she is lying in a bed she has made for herself, this song avoids punishment or assigning blame. It’s brutal inside (looking inward to accept responsibility).

“Teenage Dream,” the album’s closing track, is disarming in its vivid grief for a girlhood stolen and a future she doubts. GUTS represents the ultimate demise of that dream. With raw emotion, “Teenage Dream” encapsulates the pain of lost innocence and the lingering uncertainty.

Tracklist

NO TITLE TIME
1 all-american bitch 2:45
2 bad idea right? 3:04
3 vampire 3:39
4 lacy 2:57
5 ballad of a homeschooled girl 3:23
6 making the bed 3:18
7 logical 3:51
8 get him back! 3:31
9 love is embarrassing 2:34
10 the grudge 3:09
11 pretty isn’t pretty 3:19
12 teenage dream 3:42

Album Summary

In “Guts,” Rodrigo makes a concerted effort to act spoilt and frequently succeeds. Not growing up on any record for a more extended period requires guts. Even though the album is clever, it upholds the reputation she’s built for getting straight-up teen vérité into the grooves. Her fearless approach to music is refreshing and captivating, making her relatable to a broad audience. With each song, she effortlessly blends vulnerability and rebellion, creating a unique and authentic sound that sets her apart from other artists in the industry. As she continues to evolve and mature as an artist, it will be exciting to see where her creativity takes her next.

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