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Review: Despite being a slow burn, Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album, ‘GUTS’ does not disappoint

Olivia+Rodrigo+lays+on+a+purple+backdrop+as+she+displays+her+rings%2C+which+spell+out+her+new+album+title%2C+%E2%80%9CGUTS.%E2%80%9D+The+album+examines+Rodrigo%E2%80%99s+emotions+about+her+thus+far+experience+as+a+young+adult.%0APhoto+Source%3A+Image+from+The+Official+Website+of+Olivia+Rodrigo.
Olivia Rodrigo lays on a purple backdrop as she displays her rings, which spell out her new album title, “GUTS.” The album examines Rodrigo’s emotions about her thus far experience as a young adult. Photo Source: Image from The Official Website of Olivia Rodrigo.

No matter who you are or where you’re from, Olivia Rodrigo is surely a household name.

You may know her from her debut album, “SOUR,” which was released in 2021, or you may even remember her from her lead role in American Girl’s 2015 film, “Grace Stirs Up Success.” Even if you have somehow managed to avoid hearing Rodrigo’s name over the span of her career thus far, it would be quite impressive if you dodge her name on the radio or magazine covers after this past September.

Rodrigo released her sophomore album “GUTS”  Sept. 8 after its highly anticipated arrival.

I’m not going to lie; after my first listen to “GUTS,” I was disappointed.

I initially listened to the album wondering where I had heard each song before. They felt like recycled beats and lyrics that were slightly altered to fit the average teenage girl’s point of view. Something else that, for some reason, bothered me terribly was the resemblance to songs by artists like HAIM and Avril Lavigne.

So, like anyone does with music they don’t like, I simply listened once and decided I never wanted to hear the songs again (except for the album single “vampire,” which I absolutely adored.) I decided I needed to vocalize my opinions and write a review of the album. However, when I started writing, I realized I didn’t have much to say, as I had only listened to each song two times tops (sometimes not even all the way through.)

So, like any good reporter, I began listening to her album on repeat.

I listened on the bus, in the car, at the gym, while doing homework — essentially during any free time I had. After countless listens, something strange happened … I suddenly enjoyed the album. I caught myself bobbing my head to the songs and dissecting the complex lyrics until I finally had to admit I was a fan.

With that, if you initially thought this would be a cruel and bitter review (which, to be fair, was my original intention), you were wrong!

Let’s kick off this review with track one, “all-american b***h.” The song starts off with a soft, harmonious tune with innocent lyrics. At the beginning of the chorus, it then abruptly becomes an angsty rock song. Throughout the track, the beat switches between the two polar-opposite themes, making the song feel chaotic, but still enjoyable.

One of my favorite moments from the album is the transition between track one and track two. Track two, “bad idea right?,” one of the more upbeat songs on the record, begins with the sound of a door opening and Rodrigo saying “Hey.” This moment always gives me instant satisfaction and sets up the song for a perfect listen.

Album single, “vampire,” which I mentioned earlier, is, without a doubt in my mind, the best song on the album. Whether it’s because of its clever lyrics or painstakingly satisfying bridge, the song is a 10/10.

Track four, “lacy,” is the one song on the album I still can’t seem to get on board with. Because of Rodrigo’s breathy tone and the song’s similarity to those on “SOUR,” “lacy” is just not the song for me.

Rodrigo, however, compensated with the song “ballad of a homeschooled girl.” Many of my friends have expressed their disapproval of this song, but I thoroughly enjoy it. The lyrics sound like a collage of random, pieced-together diary entries, which formulate a chaotic, yet, exciting compilation of Rodrigo’s innermost thoughts.

While I don’t necessarily have any negative comments about “making the bed,” “logical” and “the grudge,” the three don’t particularly stick out to me.

Track eight, “get him back!” is another one of my favorite songs from the album. Interestingly enough, it was initially the song I hated the most. The song begins with the sound of drumsticks clanging while a drummer counts to three. Rodrigo’s monotone voice during each verse makes the song a unique and unexpected journey.

While still an amusing listen, “love is embarrassing,”  sounds like a copy-and-pasted HAIM song.

Track 11, “pretty isn’t pretty,” is a song about the unrealistic nature of beauty standards, is widely relatable (and catchy), making it an outstanding song. The vast majority of Rodrigo’s fanbase are teenage girls — a population endlessly impacted by unachievable beauty standards — which makes the song an anthem for teenage girls across the globe.

And so, we are brought to the final track, “teenage dream,” which is one of those songs that I could listen to on repeat. Rodrigo’s emotional vulnerability about growing up and meeting the public’s expectations makes this song a lyrical work of art.

Although I typically describe the album as a “slow burn,” the “burn” is unquestionably worth it and is therefore a worthwhile listen. “GUTS” will be surely be on each of my playlists for months to come, and I hope you will also add it to yours.

  • Lyrics
  • Enjoyment
  • Impact
  • Sound quality
4.1

Summary

Olivia Rodrigo released her sophomore album, “GUTS,” Sept. 8. “GUTS” features a range of genres, ranging from rock all the way to pop. Although I initially found the album tough to enjoy, I eventually came to appreciate Rodrigo’s candor and vulnerability which make the album both an emotional rollercoaster and a worthwhile listen.

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About the Contributor
Francie Wallack, Multimedia Editor
Francie Wallack joined the oracle in 2022 and returned as multimedia editor in 2023. Francie is a representative on Student Council, she is on the Ambassador Leadership Team advisory board, and is a member of the Jewish Student Union executive board. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her friends, volunteering at Teen Line and playing tennis.

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