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Olivia Rodrigo Spills Her GUTS Out with New Album

By Staff Writer Shuhan Jin

After two years since her Grammy-winning album, SOUR, singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo made her long-awaited return to music with the release of her second studio album, GUTS. Released on September 8, the album presents a combination of raging anthems and soul-searching ballads that unravel the chaos and suspense of young adulthood, relationships, and fame. Following the award-winning pieces of her first album SOUR, Rodrigo attempts to one-up the previous album with the songs that make up GUTS

Rodrigo first rose to fame for her singing-songwriting in 2021 with her single “drivers license”, which was then followed by her Grammy-winning album SOUR. In many ways, GUTS follows in the footsteps of SOUR — While SOUR highlights the emotions of a teenage girl, GUTS builds on Rodrigo’s frustration and anger during the confusing years as a young adult, filled with troubled relationships, societal pressures in body image, and female rage. As the title suggests, Rodrigo has the “guts” to open up about these problematic societal issues. In her song “pretty isn’t pretty”, she shares the ways she (and many girls) has desperately tried to reach unattainable beauty standards, singing, “Bought a bunch of makeup, tryna cover up my face / I started to skip lunch, stopped eatin’ cake on birthdays”. This song was very similar to her cliche style of melancholy songs featured in her previous album as well.

As the album continues, the latter part of GUTS centers around heartbreak. Rodrigo plays with the juxtaposition between the characteristics of both female rage in societal pressures  and the ache of losing a relationship, which is evident through the clear contrast between her uproarious and melancholy songs. For example, while the songs “bad idea right?” and “logical” are both about her relationship with a toxic ex-boyfriend, “bad idea right?” is filled with grungy, hard-hitting pop beats while “logical” is a more classic representation of Rodrigo’s soft, soulful ballads. 

Sonically, the growth in Rodrigo’s musical style is clear — not only has she created yet another album with many enjoyable and relatable songs, but has also delved into a new upbeat, pop-punk style compared to her past music. However, despite all of this, many of her songs appear to be repetitive or even lack creative qualities. For example,  “the grudge”, “teenage dream”, and even her popular single, “vampire”, all seem to be generic breakup songs that fail to have any unique aspects to them. Other songs such as “get him back!” and “bad idea right?” have lackluster qualities to them. For example, each of these songs begin with a large section of sprechgesang, a style of talking-singing in songs, which defeats the purpose of her talented voice. 

Overall, despite the room for improvement, Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album GUTS is still undeniably enjoyable, and her new take on hard-hitting punk is a pleasant surprise for all. Rodrigo has once again successfully curated an album that is emotionally connecting to her listeners. 

Overall Rating: A- (9.1/10)

Photo Courtesy of Pitchfork, The Red Ledger, and People

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