The five bonus “GUTS (spilled)” tracks redeem Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album

I didn’t care for “GUTS” when it released back in September 2023. The second album from rising superstar Olivia Rodrigo, its rock songs were too Disney Channel-esque to be taken seriously, whereas its slower numbers weren’t different enough—or better than—those on Rodrigo’s debut “SOUR” to warrant more than a single listen. “GUTS” was fun and stylish, but not a whole lot else.

So it was much to my surprise that I ended up loving (most of) the five new songs released on the deluxe version of the album, “GUTS (spilled),” last Friday. Apart from “obsessed,” another pop punk-inspired track that feels like the natural twin of “bad idea right?,” the other four songs hint at new genres and experiment with Rodrigo’s sound in a way that actually works. And “obsessed” isn’t even bad either—far from it. I find its melody catchier than some of Rodrigo’s other rock songs, such as “all-american bitch” and “ballad of a homeschool girl,” while still being angry and flippant and effortlessly cool. The song’s delayed release is definitely a shameless attempt to get Rodrigo back onto the top of the charts, but it’s so good that I can’t even be mad about it.

The next three tracks are a complete departure from the rest of “GUTS,” with clear folk influences and Rodrigo’s electric guitar switched out for an acoustic. The first track, “girl i’ve always been,” is full-on country, even featuring a fake accent reminiscent of Taylor Swift’s in her early years. Rodrigo manages to pull off the southern twang, keeping her album’s irate tone even with a change in style.

The next track, “scared of my guitar,” is easily my favorite on the entire album. With a sparse, stripped back sound—it’s just Rodrigo and her guitar—she confesses that while she can lie to her lover, she cannot keep secrets from her guitar. It’s a raw and touching comparison, as well as creative—“scared of my guitar” really lets Rodrigo’s songwriting shine through. The song’s chorus is a good example: “I’m so scared of my guitar/If I play it, then I’ll think too hard/Once you let the thought in, then it’s already done/So I’ll lay in your arms and pretend that it’s love.”

Finally, Rodrigo ends the album with “stranger” and “so american.” The former continues the folksy theme of the previous two tracks, but unfortunately “stranger” is the most forgettable of the new additions. It’s nice, but not super different from her other ballads. On the other hand, “so american” may be the most unique track put out by Rodrigo yet. In a discography full of songs about hard breakups and bad boyfriends, “so american” is her first real love song. Most likely written about British actor Louis Partridge, Rodrigo returns to her pop roots as she sings, “When he laughs at all my jokes/And he says I’m so American/Oh God, it’s just not fair of him/To make me feel this much.” Her joy is infectious, and you can tell that “so american” is the start of a new era for Rodrigo, musical or otherwise.

Even if her music isn’t to your personal taste, after listening to “GUTS (spilled)” there’s no questioning Rodrigo’s range or songwriting ability. If she continues to think outside the box, I’m sure that her third album will be the best we’ve seen from her yet.

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