Two years after ruling 2021’s pop panorama together with her debut LP “Bitter,” Olivia Rodrigo, the defining rockstar of the 2020s to this point, has returned this September with an excellent stronger sophomore album in “GUTS.”
After a few years of articles stating that “rock is useless,” by now it’s abundantly clear Rodrigo is the artist who has introduced rock again to mainstream music. Re-invigorating the rock style for the 2020s, Rodrigo turned the closest factor mainstream music has to a rockstar together with her energetic singles “good 4 u” and “brutal” dominating the airwaves. By mixing ‘90s alt-rock influences and her admiration of Taylor Swift’s songwriting, Rodrigo is pushing ahead a mode of rock topped off with lyrical bluntness.
On “GUTS,” Rodrigo doesn’t show a drastic shift in songwriting type however relatively delves deeper into ‘90s alt-rock sounds that draw comparisons to influential female-fronted teams like The Breeders and Gap (the previous of which are opening for Rodrigo on choose tour dates subsequent 12 months).
Fifth within the tracklist is “ballad of a homeschooled lady,” a monitor that’s strikingly similar-sounding to the work of The Breeders singer-songwriter Kim Deal as soon as once more. The resemblance on this music, nonetheless, is extra so the thumping, whimsical bassline that feels adjoining to Pixies’ “Gigantic,” which Deal notably sang and performed bass on earlier than forming The Breeders. Once more, Rodrigo channels Swift in her vocal supply in direction of the top of the refrain with the road “wanna curl up and die, It’s social suicide.”
Whereas it’s definitely plenty of enjoyable to see the music of the ‘90s make a comeback in mainstream pop, Rodrigo exhibits plenty of room for progress musically on this album. Whereas the album is sort of good, it may very well be made extra thrilling if Rodrigo had been to experiment and increase upon these influences and create one thing extra unique — one thing that might be important if she plans to achieve for the long-lasting mega-star heights and cross-generational attraction of an artist like Swift.
One irritating a part of Rodrigo’s 2021 debut album “SOUR” carries over onto her second LP “GUTS” — nearly all the lyrics appear to be alluding to the identical individual, the identical relationship, the identical break-up, and so on. Musicality apart, Rodrigo would make a way more compelling album lyrically had she diversified the lyrical material, even just a bit bit.
Nonetheless, Rodrigo begins off sturdy on “GUTS” with the intentionally rock-n-roll titled “all-american bitch.” The monitor opens with an arpeggiated acoustic guitar chord development earlier than blowing up into an electrical guitar-backed Courtney Love-style refrain with a strong, but slacker-y, vocal supply. Rodrigo channels the Gap singer’s iconic type as she draggingly sings “with excellent all-American lips and excellent all-American hips.” The music “all-american bitch” is the right synthesis of Swiftian songwriting mixed with grungy electrical guitars and anthemic choruses, proving to be a successful mixture that Rodrigo has improved upon with this stellar album opener.
Second within the tracklist is “unhealthy thought proper?” the second single launched from “GUTS,” which options Rodrigo delivering the story of her regretfully being swept into sleeping with an ex-partner. Rodrigo is extremely nonchalant and informal as she performs the lyrics to the verses on this monitor, giving off the sensation of a pal recounting the story to you personally, “Now I’m gettin’ within the automotive, wreckin’ all my plans. I do know I ought to cease, however I can’t. And I informed my pals I used to be asleep, however I by no means mentioned the place or in whose sheets.”
The vocal manufacturing on “unhealthy thought proper?” stands out on the second pre-chorus, with Rodrigo’s intermittent “ah” vocals including a contemporary edge to a monitor that additionally feels much like the dance-punk of a ‘90s act like Le Tigre.
Capping off the three opening tracks, (the triad being the three singles launched forward of the album) is the chart-topping ballad “vampire.” The choice to launch this music as the primary single is paying homage to that of “drivers license” off of “SOUR.” The only “vampire” acts as a piano ballad on an album that’s closely rock-influenced — whereas additionally managing to skyrocket to the highest of the Billboard Scorching 100. Nevertheless, “vampire” is a number of steps above the musically monotonous ballads that slowed down “SOUR.” Whereas “drivers license” is likely one of the higher ballads off “SOUR,” “vampire” exemplifies Rodrigo changing into a extra skillful author by making a extra satisfying ballad.
“Vampire” exhibits Rodrigo’s progress in writing ballads by getting extra intense within the second half of the music, climaxing into an electronic-rock bridge with rapid-fire lyrical supply “You mentioned it was real love, however wouldn’t that be laborious? You’ll be able to’t love anybody ’trigger that might imply you had a coronary heart. I attempted that can assist you out, now I do know that I can’t. ‘Trigger the way you suppose’s the type of factor I’ll by no means perceive.”
Shifting away from the affect of the ‘90s, eighth within the tracklist is “get him again!” a particularly 2000s pop-rock-styled refrain. Whereas a particularly catchy earworm, it doesn’t sound wholly unique as this music might have simply been a chart-topper in 2007 — in some methods conforming to the pop requirements of that point versus pushing pop-rock as a style ahead.
With a lot stronger ballads and extra of the identical witty ‘90s alternative-influenced bangers, Rodrigo has subverted the sophomore droop with “GUTS.” Regardless of leaving fairly a little bit of room for musical development and lyrical diversification, it’s a outstanding rock document.