Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS is Your New Main Character Energy Album

Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS is Your New Main Character Energy Album


In her second album, Olivia proves that with great guts comes even greater responsibility for her story and message

In case you haven’t noticed, anatomy play is now part of Olivia Rodrigo’s trademark. There is no better title for the artist‘s second album than GUTS. Sour leaves an aftertaste of reflection for teenage angst, heartbreak, doubt, grief, and more. You feel them first in your mouth, and when they have settled in the system, ours and hers, we digest them enough to ask. What do we do when we already have these feelings in our guts? Hence, the second installment of Rodrigo’s refined perspective on life, love, and loss is born. 

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Olivia Rodrigo GUTS album

A quick review

While some have pointed out that the aesthetic of GUTS doesn’t veer too much from Sour, it is a wise and conscious choice for Rodrigo. After all, there is no complete 180-degree change overnight, from sound to sight, and that is okay. With the 20-year-old touching on age and maturity, her listeners for sure appreciate the reassuring gradual steps of knowing better found in the lyrics. After all, growing older is just like her track from her three-Grammy debut auditory diary—it’s “1 step forward, 3 steps back.” 

One of the best things about Rodrigo is treating her voice as an instrument. Her vocals fit the rawness of the piano keys, acoustic guitar plucks, and occasional soft singing. When singing turns to the verge of squalling or into that melodic recitation of lyrics such as in “bad idea right?” and “get him back!” or the combination of both as heard on “vampire,” the singer-songwriter as a sound herself fits well into the grunginess of punchy riffs and drum beats. 

With the album acting as a collective ode for our older selves who will not outgrow, but rather grow around our teenage versions, here are scenarios that we can imagine while listening to Olivia’s GUTS in our main character energies, whether they’re 13 or 30 in our heads. 

When we have our eyes glued to the mirror

The first song, “all american bitch,” already sets the tone for the next ones with its assertive message yet contrasting sounds for self-introspection. There’s a crisp softness at play in the verses and outros with the one-by-one layering of instruments. When the rock anthem cheer comes in the chorus, the song achieves its balance of chaos and order. Overall, it captures the way we see and analyze ourselves. How do I tell myself that I am going to be okay? In a resounding tough love manner or in gentle echoes of affirmations? For Olivia, the loudness of her intrusive thoughts win with “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” and we are not complaining. 

When we have one foot out the door

Life is a series of seeing ourselves leaving and staying, a constant push and pull of indecisions. A case in point is relishing on love lost. We already know that this is one of the things the singer belts best about. In the album, she puts them back-to-back (and back again and again) from “logical” to “the grudge.” As she sings, “I’m givin’ up, I’m givin’ up, but I keep comin’ back for more” in “love is embarrassing,” we can’t help but agree. But hey, we can let go when we’re ready. 

When we have some repressed affection

Olivia laces her fourth track, “lacy,” with loops of contradictions in her lines. The rhythm, however, is consistent with a slight melodic warp circling the interlude before hitting the outro. This mirrors the “stomach in knots” the persona sings about, an audible vision of the lyrics, a punch you feel in your guts. In this song, the artist brings out her judgment that knows better, but with curiosity always at bay. Is it love? Maybe not. But with conviction, “lacy” is repressed affection at best. 

When we have the guts go and grow

At the end of the 12-track spin, “pretty isn’t pretty” and “teenage dream” conclude the artist’s comeback with a question mark on growing up. Asking does entail the intent to know, and that is acknowledgment of Olivia’s part that she has embarked on the journey to maturity. Still carrying the theme of that sour doubt from her debut, GUTS adds a sense of finality found in acceptance that there will always be inquiries as long as we keep living. Listening closely to the infant coos that the artist and producer Dan Nigro attached to the final notes of the last track, the second album is indeed a nod to the younger Olivia and the younger us, and how much we have and can still grow. 

Photos: OLIVIA RODRIGO (via Instagram and YouTube)

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