Global popstar Olivia Rodrigo returns after a two-year hiatus with her sophomore effort “Guts,” a set of 12 songs inspired by the time following the success of her 2021 debut album “Sour.” The project follows her process of self-discovery and maturity as she transitions from her teenage years to adulthood.
“Guts” was written and recorded by Rodrigo in collaboration with her producer Dan Nigro. Other co-writers include Julia Mitchell and Amy Allen on the songs “logical” and “pretty isn’t pretty.” Yet Rodrigo’s involvement in the songwriting process comes through in her lyrics, which are heart-wrenching, up close and personal.
The 12-track record has seen more success than its forerunner, climbing to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and charting all twelve songs in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album’s lead single “Vampire” has also topped international charts in the U.K. Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand.
Rolling Stone magazine has deemed the album “another instant classic,” as the genre of her music transitions from teenage pop to experiential rock.
Several songs balance a heavy, fast beat accompanied by an undertone of soft melodies. The tracks follow the storyline of Rodrigo’s journey from adolescence, one marked with fallbacks and epiphanies.
“Bad Idea Right?” is the perfect example of a fallback. The second-most popular song from the album tells the story of a woman who seems emotionally healthy, but keeps returning to old, damaging habits when her ex texts her.
The track starts with a steady beat and shifts into loud, uncontrollable noise. The voice in her head that plays in the background shares her intuition, but is overshadowed by an animalistic pull. Hearing Rodrigo boldly speak about the imperfect human within her is a breath of fresh air.
“Making the Bed” on the other hand is a model of an epiphany. The song’s smooth, low tone expresses how we must learn to live with our decisions and their consequences.
The faint, gentle tune describes someone hiding from their problems, trying to ignore reality. Rodrigo’s voice envelops the pain and stings us with each verse, ending optimistically with hope for the future.
“Guts” was a pleasant surprise, especially in comparison to “Sour.” The songs from Rodrigo’s first album sounded whiny and immature, often making her contemporaries who face similar life challenges feel uncomfortable in their own skin.
As Rodrigo and her fanbase grow up, that maturity is mirrored in her music. It’s exciting to anticipate what lies in store.