Oliva Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album “GUTS” was released on Sept. 8 2023, preceded by popular singles such as “vampire” and “bad idea right?” The 12 track album tackles the turmoil of difficult romantic relationships, personal struggles and raw, unfiltered rage.
The album kicks off with “all-american bitch,” an intense track which violently oscillates between fast and slow beats. Rodrigo’s angry sarcasm hangs heavy over each verse, clear through lines like “I don’t get angry when I’m pissed / I’m the eternal optimist / I scream inside to deal with it, like, ‘Ah.’” The song closes with Rodrigo knocking on a door, greeting the person who answers at the beginning of the next track “get him back!” — a witty end to the first track of a witty album.
Although the title “GUTS” implies that the album’s contents might be vibrantly bold, many fans were still surprised by the assertive yet honest quality of some lyrics. In “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” Rodrigo complains about the discomforts of appearing awkward in social settings. She sings, “Thought your mom was your wife (Ah) / Called you the wrong name twice (Ah).” Rodrigo’s ability to seamlessly combine the humorous and the upsetting is well-exemplified in this song. The instrumental mimics the sentiments expressed in the song — sporting jarring, thunderous and twisted sounds.
Other tracks on the album lack such excited, peppy tones. Rodrigo’s song “‘the grudge” deals with the inner turmoil of being in an emotionally taxing relationship. She sings, “And I try to understand why you would do this all to me / You must be insecure, you must be so unhappy.” The background music is a mellow, simple piano melody, reflecting the melancholic tones of Rodrigo’s lyrics. Her ability to touch the hearts of her listeners through both chaotic and calm songs is one of her strong-suits. It allows for variety in her albums—a song for every kind of listener.
Rodrigo frequently makes use of repetition to emphasize her emotions, often with phrases such as “You lied” from “logical” and “I’ve tried” from “the grudge.” She uses these kinds of techniques to voice experiences with relationships, insecurity, anger and guilt. Rodrigo’s use of oxymorons, such as the lyric “I am light as a feather, I’m as stiff as a board” from “all-american bitch” highlights her conflicted and complicated feelings. These kinds of convoluted emotions seem to be relatable to many of Rodrigo’s fans.
While expressing her own emotions, Rodrigo simultaneously expresses those of many others. Her music’s sudden rise to popularity is both a testament to how much her fans relate to her lyrics and how important it is to share these experiences and emotions with others, even if that experience is simply screaming the lyrics from “get him back!” in the car with your friends.
Five days after the release of her “GUTS,” Rodrigo announced the “GUTS” World Tour, which includes shows in the nearby cities of Boston and New York.
“GUTS” can be listened to at https://genius.com/albums/Olivia-rodrigo/Guts and on streaming platforms.