Twenty seconds into the music video for her hit single “good 4 u,” Olivia Rodrigo sits in front of two casting directors, partially obscured behind white text that reminds the viewer what we’re about to see is not real life, but a production: “Starring Olivia Rodrigo.” The song is a deliriously petty pop-punk retort to an ex who moved on a little too fast, and though this offense makes him basically “a damn sociopath” in her book, she’s the one gleefully acting like a psycho. Scowling on camera, she is the imperious head cheerleader slamming twerps into lockers, throwing hissy fits while applying mascara and setting her bedroom aflame. The inspiration behind the song—an indifferent ex—is pretty ordinary. But Rodrigo, pop star and veteran performer, knows how to turn the ritual humiliations of girlhood into dazzling, over-the-top spectacles. The world’s a stage, and she’s gonna put on a fucking show.

Guts, her uproarious second album, is a collection of bratty rocker-chick anthems and soul-searching ballads that could slot into the soundtrack of any classic high school flick, from 10 Things I Hate About You to this year’s ludicrous queer sex comedy Bottoms. While it might seem tailored to zoomers, several generations will hear the music of their youth: from Blondie and Toni Basil, to Hole and Letters to Cleo, to Avril Lavigne and the Veronicas, to the more recent Lorde. Rodrigo faces a familiar cast of antagonists: shitty boys, social anxiety, bad self-image, and competitive obsessions with other beautiful women. On the pop-punk freakout “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” she spirals over her various party faux pas—smashing glasses, blabbing too much—and wonders, once again, why a girl can’t catch a break. She might as well have called the album Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen: “Everything I do is tragic/Every guy I like is gay,” she sighs exasperatedly, a theater girl to her core.

Rodrigo might be a self-proclaimed “goody two-shoes,” but she’s not interested in playing the perfect little angel. On “all-american bitch”—an epithet borrowed from Joan Didion’s The White Album—she reckons with the impossible expectations young girls face: to be sexy and virginal, selfless and ambitious, and no matter what, to be always grateful. She sarcastically inhabits the archetype of the ideal woman, highlighting its ridiculousness: “I am light as a feather and stiff as a board,” she sings over twinkly guitar, the halo hovering over the perfectly-coiffed hair she curled with Coke bottles. But soon her plastic smile starts to melt into a grimace, and on the chorus, she wilds out, putting on her best dirtbag All-American Rejects sneer.

Instead of having “class and integrity like a goddamn Kennedy,” she’s fucking up tremendously, waking up in her ex’s bed with a hangover and a million missed texts demanding to know why she’s disappeared from Find My Friends. On Sour Rodrigo called out a former flame for his cruelty; here she winces at the degree to which she is to blame—a chronic self-sabotager who simply cannot get well. “Jesus what was I even doing?” she questions on the Kelly Clarkson-meets-Two Door Cinema Club romp “love is embarrassing,” aghast at how she reassured a lousy guy she was dating over his ex getting a new boyfriend. Rest assured: Even a Grammy Award-winning superstar with it-girl friends and a Vogue cover will still get trampled over by a “weird second-string loser not worth mentioning.”

But Rodrigo makes acting stupidly sound so fun you wonder what’s the point of being smart. The insouciant, rip-roaring highlight “bad idea right?” might as well be an advertisement for reckless behavior, following Rodrigo as she sneaks to an ill-advised hook-up, probably with the same loser. She hears the voice of reason—“I should probably, probably not!”—but drowns it out with a chorus of blah blah blahs, narrating the escapade with Kesha-level irreverence. “Can’t two people reconnect?” she chirps, feigning innocence to her friends. “I tripped and fell into his bed!” It’s a testament to the thrills of delusion, how, with a little alcohol and a bruised enough ego, your ex who’s a 6 on a good day can momentarily resemble the divine creation of Michelangelo. You might regret your shenanigans in the morning, but whatever. “Fuck it, it’s fine,” she dismisses.

Guts is so spunky and bitingly charismatic that its few lows feel like a shame. Counterbalancing the album’s ruthless zingers are the platitudes of treacly ballads like “logical,” on which Rodrigo tries to show her romantic irrationality with a grade-school mathematics demonstration. The album’s more somber offerings are not always bad on their own, but amid songs that showcase such ripened self-awareness, they can feel stuck in the past, content to repeat the same wounded, wide-eyed disbelief of “drivers license.” “the grudge” even has the same pulsing piano and sky-scraping vocals. And the gap between party songs and melancholic confessionals is more stark than on an ostensible forebear like Melodrama, creating a greater sense of disjuncture. But not all attempts at earnestness land poorly: “pretty isn’t pretty” is an iridescent mid-tempo pop-rocker with beautiful, twisting vocals. It has the crystalline satisfactions of an Alvvays song.

Listening to the lesser ballads creates a deeper appreciation for the innovations of “vampire,” Guts’ withering lead single about a parasitic older man who descended upon Rodrigo for her youth and status. At first the singer is just a static figure at the piano, tormented by his betrayal and her own naïveté. But instead of staying in this funereal mode, she and producer Dan Nigro slowly accelerate the tempo, creating a climatic rock opera that whirls through new settings as if to recreate the disorientation of a toxic love affair. The song’s vampire-themed concept is a little trite—a Twilight fan simply can’t help herself—but she roughens it up with her word choices, among them the brilliant little insult “fame-fucker.” Rodrigo kicked off the last album with the declaration “I want it to be, like, messy”—and throughout Guts, she and Nigro demonstrate an admirable willingness to ruffle the order, always down for an instrument switch-up, loopy spoken ad-lib, or surprise guitar solo.

But back to this fame-fucker: He’s the subject of the album’s bona fide smash, a topsy-turvy rap-rock heater called “get him back!” With a bored, over-it attitude, Rodrigo recalls the saga of their relationship, how he’d make passes at her friends but then whisk her away to Paris to cover for his indiscretions. She’s probably done with him, right? Well, not exactly. “I am my father’s daughter, I said maybe I can fix him,” she chants, slyly nodding to her therapist dad. The title cleverly reflects all the emotions rattling in her head, how in one moment she wants to demolish his car and in the next she just wants to make out. “I want sweet revenge/I want him again,” she sings in a rousing chorus that demands to be shouted everywhere: in the gymnasium, at the tailgate, while you’re in a ski mask egging a house. She may not be the ideal role model, but the best main characters never are.

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