Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘GUTS’-y step in musical maturity

It’s not usually {that a} pop album manages to strike a balanced mixture of charming narratives, heart-wrenching lyricism and high quality beats. Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore launch “GUTS” was such a set, sucking me into its swirl of advanced early-adulthood feelings.

Rodrigo is without doubt one of the handful of artists whose works make it into my each day playlists. I have a tendency to hunt music that’s extra narrative — one thing I discovered in tracks equivalent to “happier” and “1 step ahead, 3 steps again” from Rodrigo’s first album “SOUR.”

“GUTS,” launched on Sept. 8, threw me into full shock.

Like “SOUR,” “GUTS” consists of Rodrigo’s attribute piano ballads and upbeat emotional outbursts. However what makes “GUTS” much more irresistible is its calmer indie and rock tracks with types paying homage to many years previous. It’s an thrilling improvement to see Rodrigo step away from her picture as a teen pop star and transfer towards extra musical maturity and selection.

The album’s eighth monitor, “get him again!” — which has already amassed over 60 million performs on Spotify — impressed me with its mash-up of indie rock components and Rodrigo’s signature fiery deliveries. The verse is sung in partial rap, one thing we hadn’t seen from Rodrigo’s earlier works.

The refrain teems with emotional complexity, and the association, produced by Dan Nigro, has the acquainted, refreshing style of Lorde. Songs in “SOUR” focus on an unambiguous theme (equivalent to anger in “good 4 u” and heartbreak in “drivers license”). Nevertheless, “get him again!” explores the singer’s simultaneous vengefulness and longing towards a no-good ex. The title itself can imply regaining his coronary heart or searching for revenge, each of which the singer needs.

Rodrigo expresses this wittily in enjambments like “I wanna kiss his face / with an uppercut.” Within the music video, the enjambments have been embodied by Rodrigo selecting off one purple flower petal after one other, in a contemporary rendition of the sport “he loves me … he loves me not.” 

A equally nuanced emotional arc is delivered in “love is embarrassing,” which marries the teenage fury current in “SOUR” with a newfound self-mockery. The stereotypical storyline specified by the upbeat verse (the singer had determined anyone “was the one,” solely to seek out out the man “kissed somebody from highschool”) units the groundwork for an explosive refrain. In one of many catchiest melodies I’ve ever heard, Rodrigo screams “Love’s embarrassing as hell” and “I quit all the pieces” in a mix of despair and seen-it-all acceptance, whereas the melody is a carefree celebration of her ignorance.

Listening to “love is embarrassing,” I can think about myself in a musical panorama paying homage to the 2000’s. The songs may have simply been the background monitor of a 2000’s TV present like “Gilmore Ladies,” with their robust drum beats and radio results in the course of the verses.

The eleventh monitor, “fairly isn’t fairly,” solidifies the album’s nostalgic motif with a fade-out on the finish. On this ultimate rock-leaning monitor, Rodrigo explores the theme of magnificence requirements in larger depth — having touched on it in passing in “SOUR.” The track has each calm narrative moments when the 20-year-old displays on when she “began to skip lunch,” and highly effective exclamations of “I may change up my physique and alter up my face … however I’d all the time really feel the identical / ‘cuz fairly isn’t fairly sufficient anyhow.” 

The musician delivers her message in a head voice stuffed with vulnerability and unhappiness, as a substitute of choosing the roaring exclamations in her first album (in hits equivalent to “good 4 u”). I discover myself unable to show away from the tune.

Compared with the jaw-dropping post-punk tracks, I discovered myself much less impressed by “GUTS’” quite a few ballads (equivalent to “making the mattress,” “logical” and “teenage dream”), which seem too related of their piano-based instrumentation and emotional arc. The one exception was the lead single “vampire,” which topped the Billboard Scorching 100 quickly after its launch in June. 

The monitor goes above and past a well-crafted melody, piano pulses and “sky-scraping vocals” typical of Rodrigo’s slower tunes. To astonishing outcomes, “vampire” introduces drum beats that add layers to the track’s texture and feelings, equivalent to within the second refrain and earlier than the bridge. It is a fascinating tackle the acquainted trope of a younger woman seduced by a vampire lover.

Each monitor in “GUTS” has a sure appeal, I can confidently say as I flip to the album for the dozenth time. The album is a testomony to Rodrigo’s development as an artist, as she produces extra musically and lyrically nuanced narratives which have one thing for everybody.

Editor’s Notice: This text is a evaluation and consists of subjective ideas, opinions and critiques.