Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘GUTS’ Is For the Girls, Regardless of Age
Photo: Nick Walker
“I wanna get him back, I wanna make him really jealous, wanna make him feel bad.”
Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album, GUTS, is finally out for us* to hear* (by “us,” I am strictly referring to us girls in our twenties, and by “hear,” I mean for us* to get back with our exes, then realize why we didn’t initially go back to them to in the first place, subsequently plot our revenge, and hopefully learn a thing or two in the process). GUTS is the soundtrack to every girl’s life. It’s a messy bedroom with so many posters on the wall it’s a fire hazard. It’s clothes everywhere, lipstick smudges on the mirror, broken eyeshadow palettes, and half-empty beverages. It’s “Hell Is A Teenage Girl,” it’s Sofia Coppola, and, above all, it’s Rodrigo at her very best.
SOUR is the initial heartbreak album, where Rodrigo is immediately hit with the melancholic and tumultuous feelings of “Why me? Why us? Why him? Why now,” plastering a pack of purple band-aids over her open wounds with each track.
...And GUTS is every emotion that follows, in the form of checkered skirts, ripped fishnets, ribbons tied everywhere, grunge and grit, Paramore and Avril Lavigne, and just about everything else that made growing up in the sunny California suburbs in the early 2000’s bearable. Whether you’re 15, 25, or 35, GUTS will have you creating a burn book for every person who has wronged you. Listen at your own risk.
In its first track, “all american bitch,” Rodrigo perfectly sets the scene for GUTS—messy bedroom, broken eyeshadow palettes, and all. “all american bitch” begins with a vocal cadence reminiscent of “enough for you,” featuring Rodrigo singing over acoustic guitars and soft-as-silk harmonies. Right when we think we’ve got an innocent ballad, she flips a switch and screams into the microphone over intense electric guitar riffs within milliseconds, and right when we think we’re hearing the soundtrack of a nostalgic teenage film (think: Freaky Friday, Mean Girls, or your choice iconic Lindsay Lohan movie) Rodrigo instantly switches back to falsetto, people-pleasing-esque vocals. Between the screams and the softness, it is abundantly clear that we are no longer in the SOUR-sphere.
It wouldn’t be a true review of GUTS if I didn’t dedicate a paragraph to the standout single “get him back!.” “get him back!” is one of those songs you wish you could hear again for the first time. The distortion is set to maximum while Rodrigo embraces a “singing-but-talking” vocal method. She’s stepping into her British post-punk era, unpacking the baggage of her last relationship like it’s the last thing she could care about. Lyrically, “get him back!” plays on the idea of contradictions, with Rodrigo picking petals off a flower, knowing that she doesn’t like him... but she does? But maybe not? Who knows?
While Rodrigo is certainly embracing a pop-rock sound throughout the album—which particularly punches through in “ballad of a homeschooled girl” and “bad idea right?”—the album offers several ‘Olivia Rodrigo ballads,’ like “Lacy,” which feels like a folky, eerie letter to an alter ego, “the grudge,” an honest introspection of the act of forgiving, and “logical,” a relatable poem about finding one’s own closure, and seeing a past relationship for what it really was.
The GUTS experience is nothing short of a wild read-through of the day-to-day diary of a teenage girl, from delulu anthems like “love is embarrassing” to emotional sucker-punches like “pretty isn’t pretty.” Rodrigo has managed to intertwine heartfelt ballads with angst-ridden bangers, carefully curating each track with equal parts vulnerability and tongue-in-cheek lyricism that ultimately paints a vulnerable portrait of girlhood.
GUTS is an album for the girls, and it is safe to say that Olivia Rodrigo has done it again.
Listen to GUTS below: