It’s not a “bad idea” to listen to “GUTS”

Oct. 4, 2023, 5:42 p.m. | By Lillian Paterson | 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album is full of hits

"GUTS" has it all: from ballads to spunky pop-rock anthems to mellow emotional tunes (Image courtesy of Pitchfork).

On Sept. 8, Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album “GUTS'' was released. The 12 track album has it all, from ballads to spunky pop rock anthems to mellow emotional tunes. Rodrigo shows off her range as both a performer and a songwriter, and this project is definitely worth the buzz it’s gotten leading up to release. 

“GUTS” was produced by Dan Nigro, who also worked with Rodrigo on her debut album “SOUR.” Outside of working with Rodrigo, Nigro has produced singles with Carly Rae Jespen and Maise Peters, and worked with Conan Gray, a close friend of Rodrigo all three of his albums (“Sunset Season,” “Kid Krow,” and “Astronomy”) His work across all of these artist has been exceptional, and it’s not surprising that Rodrigo’s come back to him time and time again. “I feel grateful for my collaborator Dan who pushes me and inspires me and without whom this album couldn’t have been possible” she says on her work with Nigro.

Going through the tracklist for the first time, it’s clear she follows a pattern — going back and forth between rock and pop, catching the listener emotionally off-guard in pretty much every other song. The album kicks off with “all american b***h,” a pop rock anthem about the unreachable standards and pressures placed on women in America. Rodrigo’s songwriting chops shine in this song, with insightful lyrics like “I am built like a mother and a total machine” and “I got class and integrity just like a g****mn Kennedy, I swear.”

“all american b***h” seamlessly transitions into “bad idea, right?” the second single off the album. It’s one of the catchiest and most well produced songs off the album. The riffs, distortion, and spoken word vocals make it one of the best songs off the album. 

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for “vampire,” the lead single and next track on the album. Due to the song’s social media virality, on the thousandth listen it comes off as overplayed. It’s a solid song, and a good choice for the lead single, but next to the newer, less exhausted songs it doesn’t hold up.

Luckily, “vampire” is made up for by “lacy,” which is easily the best song off the album. “lacy” is a soft, heartfelt acoustic tune with angelic vocals about jealousy, comparison, and obsession to the point that it’s almost romantic. It is very much a callback to “jealousy, jealousy,” track nine off of Rodrigo’s debut album “SOUR”. 

We then return to the kingdom of pop rock with “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” a loud, angry and unexpectedly relatable for a song with the words “homeschooled girl” in the title.

The only song off the album that isn’t at least decent is “logical,” which is the worst-written song off the album. Rodrigo has proved time and time again her talent as a songwriter, but this song goes to show that not everything can be a hit. The chorus starts off “and now you got me thinkin’/ two plus two equals five/ and I’m the love of your life,” and there’s definitely something there, but it’s just not anywhere near as poignant as other songs on the album. 

Rodrigo recovers quickly with tracks eight and nine: “get him back,” a pop rock song with spunky spoken word and “love is embarrassing,” a sweet catchy classic pop tune. The remaining songs of the album are situated more distinctly in the pop/soft pop realm of genres. Each has their shining moments, but none of them really stand out compared to the stacked tracklist that comes before them.

The final track, “teenage dream” ends the album on an interesting note. It’s got a great bridge and good lyrics, but like the last couple of songs doesn’t quite hold up against the rest of the album. It doesn’t feel right to be the final song of the album, it would make more sense to return to the rock sounds she’s been going back and forth with. 

“GUTS” has quite a few low points, but overall the highs outweigh the lows. When it’s good, it’s very good, and when it’s not-so-good, it’s fine. There are no outright horrible songs, and most of the skips are, at the end of the day, up to personal preference. Overall, “GUTS” has something for everyone on it and showcases Rodrigo’s versatility as an artist. As one of the most promising artists of this generation, it’ll be exciting to see where she chooses to go next in her career. 

The GUTS world tour kicks off in Palm Springs, CA on Feb. 13. Rodrigo visits D.C. July 20. More details can be found here.

Last updated: Oct. 5, 2023, 7:51 a.m.

Tags: album review Olivia Rodrigo

Lillian Paterson. Hey, I'm Lillian (she/her) and I'm a co-sports and co-op-ed editor for SCO. When I'm not being totally consumed by school work I like to play guitar and read! More »

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