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The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Album Review: Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Guts’ will make you want to scream

Olivia Rodrigo demonstrates her lyrical and vocal strengths on her new album “Guts.” (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

On “the grudge” off her new album “Guts,” Olivia Rodrigo solemnly sings, “I try to be tough/but I want to scream,” and on this album, she does scream. A lot.

The 20-year-old singer-songwriter takes out two years of built-up frustration on her highly anticipated sophomore album released last Friday. “Guts” is the follow-up to her 2021 Grammy-winning debut album “Sour.”  

Fans got a first taste of the album this summer with the release of two singles. The first, “vampire,” is a classic Rodrigo ballad with an explosive ending that details her regret over a relationship with a manipulative older man that “bled her dry like a goddamn vampire.” The single was followed with “bad idea right?” which is a playful, energetic recount of Rodrigo hooking up with an ex. Both songs entered the top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 list, setting high expectations for the rest of the album. Rodrigo delivers on those expectations.

“Guts” feels bigger than “Sour,” yet it fits in seamlessly with the rest of her catalog. It’s loud, sad, funny, relatable and witty. While early reviews of “Guts” described the album to be more “Good 4 U” than “Drivers License,” I found the album to have a healthy mix of lively anthems and soft ballads on its 12-song tracklist.

The album’s first track, “all-american bitch” blends together both of “Guts” musical aesthetics. The song (which is reminiscent of early-2000s Avril Lavigne music) goes back and forth between a sweet melody where Rodrigo describes herself as an idyllic, overly-positive teenage girl and an angrier chorus in which she points out the absurdities of being “grateful all the time” and “an eternal optimist.”

Rodrigo grapples with not only the end of a messy relationship but with how to follow up her incredibly successful debut album. In “making the bed,” Rodrigo sings, “Every good thing has turned into somethin’ I dread/And I’m playin’ the victim so well in my head/But it’s me who’s been makin’ the bed.” This song is one of the most lyrically strong on the album, calling back to her earlier hits and past achievements as she accepts the life that she’s built for herself.

While I love a heartfelt, soul-crushing ballad, my early picks for favorite songs off the album have been her louder, campier ones. On “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” in an almost conversational tone, she sings “I laughed at the wrong time, sat with the wrong guy (Uh-huh)/Sеarchin’ ‘how to start a conversation?’ on a website (How to flirt?)” Her relatable annoyance with herself over her inability to fit in in a social situation is paired with prominent drums, heavy electric guitar and comical lyrics. 

Rodrigo has had a lot of time to think since her last album and she vocalizes her internal monologue throughout the album. Many tracks feature a choir behind Rodrigo, often made up of her own voice. In “get him back!” the choir encourages her to get her ex back, through both revenge and reconciliation. In “teenage dream,” a more reflective song, the choir mimics Rodrigo’s most self-destructive inner voices, singing “Yeah, they all say that it gets better/It gets better, but what if I don’t?”

Overall, “Guts” is lyrically, sonically and tonally cohesive, making it a worthy follow-up to her debut album. Rodrigo never fails to write a catchy song and each feels like a hidden gem. I found myself already knowing the words to most of the tracks by the end of the release weekend (granted, I’ve been playing “Guts” all day, every day since it came out). Rodrigo has undoubtedly made the soundtrack of my fall semester.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Gaglione, Culture Editor
Isabella Gaglione (she/her) is a junior English and Film & Media Studies double major from Long Island, New York. The Lafayette's resident Taylor Swift Reporter. 

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