Where to start with Olivia Rodrigo’s smart bomb of a new single?

We could talk about her close-miked vocal tone — somehow cathartic and conspiratorial at once — as she rhymes “blood-sucker” and fame-f—er” in the chorus. We could talk about the juddering guitar noise that closes the track like somebody spilled hot water in the studio. We could talk about the ridiculously sick burn Rodrigo delivers in the second verse when she says the reason her ex went for her instead of an older woman is because “girls your age know better.”

Titled “Vampire,” Rodrigo’s song — a miniature multipart epic that suggests My Chemical Romance’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” crossed with Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” — is the first taste from “Guts,” the feverishly anticipated sophomore album she’s set to drop in September, more than two years after the instant-smash debut that vaulted the now-20-year-old from the Disney Channel to pop’s A-list. And to judge by the song’s lyrics, it wasn’t an entirely happy journey: “Vampire” is about a dude drawn to Rodrigo’s celebrity who sets to “bleeding me dry like a goddamn vampire.”

The best thing about “Vampire,” beyond the head-fake piano-ballad intro that lures you into expecting a sequel to the singer’s breakout “Drivers License,” is its emotional sophistication — the sense that she’s thought through what this loser did to her and can now recognize her own part in it.

“Every girl I ever talked to told me you were bad, bad news,” she sings, “You called them crazy / God, I hate the way I called them crazy too.” (We can agree that’s at minimum Swift-adjacent, yes?)

Co-written and produced by Dan Nigro, who also worked on 2021’s “Sour,” “Vampire” is a feat of introspection scaled up to rock-operatic dimensions. It’s tragic; it’s exultant; it’s very, very promising.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *