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Spilling our ‘GUTS’: Album review

Olivia Rodrigo // Instagram
Olivia Rodrigo explores pop rock sounds with her most ambitious songwriting yet in her new sophomore album ‘GUTS’.

After the sweeping success of her debut album “SOUR,” the bar was set high for Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album “GUTS,” which was released Sept. 8. Fans had been craving new music from the 20-year-old pop princess, and despite the pressure to top “SOUR,” Rodrigo did not disappoint, truly spilling her guts with the emotional, versatile album.

“GUTS” takes the listener through a bundle of emotions; feelings of being heartbroken, confused and self-conscious all echo off of the twelve-song tracklist.

Rodrigo maintained the piano ballad style that frequented her debut album with “Vampire,” her latest No. 1 hit song on the Billboard Top 100 and the most streamed single from the album. “GUTS” also explores more pop-rock sounds, with “all-american b—-” having a similar sound to songs Courtney Love released in the early ‘90s, and “get him back!” is filled with high-energy drums and guitar.

Rodrigo continues to prove her excellent songwriting abilities, exploring the messy but exciting energy of being in your late teens and early twenties. She lays out her most ambitious storytelling yet, singing about age gaps in romantic relationships, disordered eating and wanting to get revenge on those you love most.

In the track “ballad of a homeschooled girl” — one of the standout songs on the album — Rodrigo sings of all too familiar feelings for teenage girls and young women. The song plays with the social anxiety and pressure to fit in that many of her listeners face, singing that she’s “on the outside of the greatest inside joke.”

Already a fan-favorite, “lacy” blurs the line between a romantic obsession and crippling envy of a girl who seems to have it all. Throughout the song, Rodrigo laces feminine objects like ribbons and perfume with intense lines like “bullets on skin” and “the sweetest torture one could bear;” a juxtaposition between the beauty and pain of girlhood. The intense lyrics mixed with the gentle guitar of the track create overwhelming feelings of sadness and jealousy.

The song “pretty isn’t pretty,” while possessing a fun pop beat, explores self-criticism, the expectations of female physicality and simply never feeling pretty enough for society. Going right off of its tail, Rodrigo closes the album with “teenage dream,” exploring the pain and confusion of reaching the end of one’s teenage years.

“GUTS” is filled with a plethora of songs listeners will enjoy. From slow, heartbreaking ballads to high-energy pop songs, Rodrigo’s sophomore album delivers a versatile track list and excellent songwriting. A second listen-through is an absolute must.

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Caroline James Warner, Senior Reporter
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