Olivia Rodrigo Defines New Pop Landscape with Bold Second Album ‘GUTS’


In a world saturated with pop stars and overnight sensations, Olivia Rodrigo boldly carves out her own soundscape with the launch of her much-anticipated second album, “GUTS.” Aptly titled, the album is a testament to Rodrigo’s audacity across 12 tracks, each song a reflection of her life as a budding pop superstar grappling with the demands of fame and the turmoil of early adulthood.

“GUTS” unveils a blend of pop-punk and raw, confessional lyricism, moving seamlessly from the haunting piano ballad “vampire” to the devil-may-care vibes of “bad idea right?” The album surges with dynamic oscillations, underpinning Rodrigo’s unadulterated authenticity.

Yet, hidden beyond her leading singles are even more compelling moments. The opening number, “all-American bitch,” draws influence from a Joan Didion quote, showcasing a pop-punk spirit evocative of Liz Phair. Her use of irony and raw emotion come to the fore as she sings, “I’m grateful all the time / I’m sexy and I’m kind / I’m pretty when I cry.”

The track “pretty isn’t pretty” serves a lustrous slice of The Cure-inspired dreamy guitar tones, delivering a biting critique of society’s unattainable beauty standards.

The influence of favoured rock bands is readily discernible, but Rodrigo makes the sound her own. For instance, Pavement leaves a mark on “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” with lyrics akin to witty AOL away messages, invoking nostalgia and a dash of humor.

“the grudge” draws inspiration from Rodrigo’s chart-topping single “drivers license,” cementing her prowess in delivering stirring piano power ballads. Unafraid to unleash her full vocal potential, Rodrigo breaks away from the hushed, muted singing typical of her pop contemporaries.

Her debut album saw Rodrigo lamenting the tribulations of adolescence in “brutal.” However, on “GUTS,” the closing track “teenage dream” resonates with an apology: “I’m sorry that I couldn’t always be your teenage dream,” she laments.

While comparisons to Taylor Swift have dogged Rodrigo, “GUTS” steers clear of these parallels, except in the album’s weaker moments. Yet even in such instances, Rodrigo’s music remains superior to the best tracks of lesser artists.

In Rodrigo’s own words, this album reflects the growing pains that punctuated her transition from 18 to 20 —a period of profound change and awkwardness. Collaborating once again with her trusted comrade Dan Nigro, the producer for “SOUR,” Rodrigo braves the realm of pop music with raw emotion and wit. Her second album reaffirms her standing as a successful multiplatinum debutante, Grammy award-winner and the youngest solo artist to make it to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“GUTS” bears testament to the formidable potency of a young woman’s dissatisfaction, especially when she has the courage to channel it into her craft. Rodrigo wears her dissatisfaction on her sleeve, infused with a dose of laughter and a resounding sense of self-awareness.


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