[Review] Olivia Rodrigo spills her Guts on her new album

Olivia Rodrigo performs during the Brit Awards 2021 at the O2 Arena in London on May 11, 2021. Photo permission by Ian West/PA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS.
Olivia Rodrigo performs during the Brit Awards 2021 at the O2 Arena in London on May 11, 2021. Photo permission by Ian West/PA Wire/Zuma Press/TNS.
Tribune News Service

Singer and actress Olivia Rodrigo released her highly anticipated sophomore album, “Guts,” on Sept. 8 at midnight. The album was originally teased with the release of her music video for the first single, “Vampire,” on June 29. There are a total of 12 songs that compile into a 39 minute pop-rock album, produced and co-written by Dan Nigro. Following the success of her debut album “Sour,” “Guts” details conflicting feelings about past love and insecurities at the time of being a young adult.

Inspiration from the 1990s and early 2000s grunge and pop-rock is prevalent throughout the album, with some sounds similar to Wetleg, The Cure and Miley Cyrus. Rodrigo confirmed that Fiona Apple was an inspiration at the time of the album’s release, as Rodrigo wears a shirt with her face on it in the “All American B****” live rehearsal.

While “Sour” was written at the time when Rodrigo was going through her first heartbreak, “Guts” seems to have a more mature perspective on love and breakups. While underscoring a variety of mixed emotions and confusing situations, Rodrigo’s sophomore album shows improvement in lyricism and establishes the sound that the singer is recognized for.

“Guts” has distinctly two main types of songs: aggressive punk-pop anthems and emotional, heart wrenching ballads. Rodrigo uses her passionate and booming vocals, allowing the listener to hear the power in her voice.

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The album opener “All American B****” is a rock-leaning song that Rodrigo wrote about the confusion and frustration of growing up as a girl being forced into a box. The box in which she is referring to are labels being placed on her when she is trying to find her identity. She starts the song off with sarcastic positive affirmations with a polite and quiet voice, but then dives into a loud chorus expressing the anger that she feels about growing up as a woman with all these expectations placed on her. The track ends with repeated high pitch screams, which then transitions back to her positive affirmations.

The song is then followed by the two singles that came out prior to the album being released. “Bad Idea Right?” is about making the terrible decision to see your ex-boyfriend while having a night out with your friends. “Vampire” is about the exploitation and betrayal that Rodrigo experienced from a previous romantic partner. The former is a fun punk-pop song, while the latter is an upsetting piano ballad that releases a buildup of synth beats in moments of crescendos. The singles have very different sounds, but perfectly illustrate the duality of the album’s sounds and themes.

Olivia Rodrigo releases her new albums “Guts” on Sept. 8, 2023. The highly anticipated album received 80 million streams on its release date. (Courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo’s Official Website)

Other songs standout among the rest, such as “Lacy.” The song can be appreciated for its very nuanced topic: having feelings of jealousy and adoration for another woman. The dark undertones can be noticed in the lyrics, with Rodrigo comparing Lacy to an angel, but describing how she is suffering when she is around Lacy. The ending is hauntingly beautiful as Rodrigo finally admits her true feelings about Lacy through quiet whispers.

“Ballad of a Homeschool Girl” is another standout. The chorus is catchy and brilliant in describing the feelings of overthinking your own actions. Rodrigo perfectly illustrates the uncomfortable feelings of having little social skills. She creates the most impact while belting the words “social suicide,” words that compare how she feels socializing with other people. The only thing disappointing about this song is that Rodrigo could not “think of a third line” to end the song. It illustrates how she could be ranting the entire time and suddenly runs out of things to say, which can be inferred from her trying to catch her breath at the end of the song. However, it feels very unsatisfying for a song that is so good throughout the rest of the verses to end with random lyrics.

The final of the standouts is “Making the Bed,” a song reflecting on Rodrigo’s feelings about the effects of her rise to fame. She sings, “I got the things I wanted, it’s just not what I imagined,” cluing the listener that she has achieved her dreams of success but it was not what she was expecting. The chorus is supposed to be a reference to the saying “you made the bed, now lie in it,” which is a way of telling a person to face the consequences of their actions. Rodrigo may be experiencing the effects of fame that are out of her control, but she says that it is her that made it possible for those to even happen.

The closing song, “Teenage Dream” ends the album with questions about what is next for Rodrigo. She finishes the song with the lyrics, “they always say that it gets better, it gets better the more you grow, but what if I don’t?” The sentiment reveals an undying truth about the fear and uncertainty of the future, especially as she enters into adulthood. The singer expresses feelings that she has already given the world everything that she has to offer, and now that she is older, she is “past her prime.” The listener is left only with questions about what is in the future for Rodrigo.

Closely following the release of the album, Rodrigo announced her world tour, with tickets expected to go on sale Sept. 19, 2023. She is performing with openers The Breeders, Chappell Roan, PinkPantheress and Remi Wolf.

Rodrigo has demonstrated time and time again her astonishing songwriting abilities and emotional voice, and that is no different for this next installation. However, the sound of “Guts” is similar to her previous album, especially in her more tragic songs since they are simple and seem to ride entirely on her vocals and the melody.

“Guts” has memorable songs, but leaves more to be desired. Previous works by Rodrigo have given her high praise and even higher expectations. While the album may have not been up to par, Rodrigo displays her talents in what she does best. While the future is uncertain, “Guts” proves that Rodrigo can look past what people expect of her and make something that she can be proud of.

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About the Contributor
Grace Brill
Grace Brill, Design Editor
Grace Brill is a sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the Design Editor for Eagle Eye News. She likes art and watching movies in her spare time.
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