‘GUTS (spilled)’ experiments with sound

When Olivia Rodrigo released her second studio album “GUTS” in September, it solidified her status among the top pop singers in the world right now. The 12-track album was filled with pop-rock hits that echo the sounds of the early 2000s and 2010s, similar to Avril Lavigne and Paramore. All 12 songs from “GUTS” charted within Billboard’s Top 40 the week it was released, including “vampire” reaching No. 1.

On March 22, Rodrigo decided to “spill” her guts by adding five new tracks to the hit album in “GUTS (spilled).” The first four new tracks, “obsessed,” “girl i’ve always been,” “scared of my guitar” and “stranger” lyrically have the same themes of “GUTS” and her first album, “SOUR.” The lyrics all follow some sort of heartbreak-related story that highlight typical teen and young adult relationship issues.

The final track added to the album, “so american,” doesn’t fit this mold, however. “so american” is the first song of Rodrigo’s career, including all 11 tracks on “SOUR,” that is a love song that paints a relationship in a positive light. In an Instagram post celebrating the release, Rodrigo said she was “especially excited” about the closing track on the album.

As for how the songs actually sound, “obsessed” and “so american” match the punky vibes of “all-american bitch” and “love is embarrassing” while “scared of my guitar” and “stranger” resemble the slower tracks “lacy” and “logical” from the original album.

Then, there’s “girl i’ve always been,” which breaks all the rules of what Rodrigo has done in the past by swinging into some sort of mix between country and soft rock. It’s the first we’ve heard Rodrigo drive away from her typical genre and into something completely unexpected.

Rodrigo deserves credit for venturing into new territories, something that not many artists do at such an early stage in their careers. There are valid criticisms to make of the new songs, but her mixing and matching of themes and sounds made for an unexpected and pleasant listen.

This isn’t to say that the five new tracks that makeup “GUTS (spilled)” make for a perfect album. Some find the new tracks to venture too far off from what originally drew them to Rodrigo as an artist, while others find the lyricism to be over the top, even for Rodrigo’s standards.

However, experimenting with different sounds, themes and lyrics is something that more artists should do, even while still establishing a “brand,” as Rodrigo is doing. Exploring a positive love song and using sounds that pry away from the punk-pop genre is a bold but critical step for Rodrigo on her journey to becoming a more well-rounded artist.


4/5 stars




Featured photo courtesy of @oliviarodrigo, Instagram