Ali Fernand – Managing Editor
Olivia Rodrigo has released her sophomore album, “GUTS.” This is an album that has been highly anticipated since her debut album, “SOUR,” was a smash hit. It is hard to not see Rodrigo’s appeal unless you have never heard of her or have never had a conversation with a teenage girl. She has captured the often corny and angsty elements of early womanhood emotions.
This album is no different, in fact, it is even more dramatic than Rodrigo’s first album. People who are nosy about celebrity dating lives would know that SOUR was following what was probably her first breakup. GUTS is channeling several more heartbreaks.
Rodrigo took her pop-punk influences and ran with it for this album. More than half of the album channels these rock elements with distorted guitars and vibrant drums. It is a good sound for her, particularly opening the album incredibly with her loudest song yet which ends in her screaming. In “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl,” she even experiments with vocal distortions, which gives a more garage rock band sound. Despite the controversial lyrics, this is definitely one of the most fun songs on the album.
This album seems to have aged with her. While it still is something that will mostly be enjoyed by younger women and girls, she dives into more mature aspects of relationships. It never gets too explicit, but she has some funny moments in her lyrics. One that sticks out is “I just tripped and fell into his bed,” in “bad idea right?”
This was personally unexpected, but the best moments on the album are the ballads. Rodrigo flexes her ability to write and sing a beautiful melody on “Lacy.” This might be the best song on the album. The lyrics are sultry and the guitar is a slow plucking melody. It is the most stunning song she has written.
Rodrigo has another slow moment with “logical.” This reminisces her original hit “Driver’s License,” with a flowing piano and emotional lyrics. Most of the lyrics are playing with logic in that she states things that are not true. This is meant to represent the regret she feels for believing her ex loved her. It is a ballad of heartbreak and betrayal, something Rodrigo is known for.
Despite really great moments, GUTS is extremely frontloaded. This is something I feel a lot of albums do where they pack all of the best songs right at the beginning of the album. It immediately drops at “Get Him Back!” a cringey spoken word pop punk song. Rodrigo should not ever rap again; this is easily her most uncomfortable song. It is like the terrible ’90s trend of monotone spoken word in rock music.
The last two songs do pick it up a bit; not in energy, but definitely in quality. Rodrigo inserts a moment similar to her last project where she comments on her insecurities called, “Pretty isn’t pretty.” The instrumentals and vocals are fantastic in this song. It is also great for younger girls to have a pop star put out a relatable message.
Overall, this album is another hit on girlhood. Someone needs to be the over-the-top angsty girl of pop, and we should be grateful that it is Olivia Rodrigo.