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Review: Olivia Rodrigo's "GUTS" is the album for everyone else's happily-ever-afters


Photos courtesy of Adobe Stock.

“I’m plannin’ out my wedding with some guy I’m never marryin',” Olivia Rodrigo sang on “love is embarrassing," off of her new album, "GUTS." 

I first listened to this lyric, nodding along to the beat, at an engagement party — my cousin’s engagement party, which I originally thought was terrible luck.

Is there a worse place to listen to music that's hopeless about love — that it is never logical, it’s a bad idea, it’s embarrassing and it ultimately leaves someone bled dry with a grudge?

Rodrigo’s follow-up to her 2021 breakout album "SOUR" chronicles a girl holding back her emotions in day-to-day life to reveal them in song — perfect for not ruining an engagement party.

“I don’t get angry when I’m pissed,” Rodrigo sang on track one, “all-american bitch.” 

It’s ironic humor on an album where she gets angry often, but it also sets up a common theme: Rodrigo’s outer actions do not reflect her inner turmoil. 

In that way, an engagement party might be the most immersive way to listen to "GUTS" — outward celebration clashes with internal, music-induced angst.

The album leans further into the pop-punk niche she established on "SOUR." But this time, she’s replaced the focus of her anger from the boy who broke her heart to the wide-ranging, tumultuous changes she has experienced in the last year of fame. 

Rodrigo even turns against herself, mocking her decision to go back to an ex on “bad idea right?” The song’s talk-singing verses sound straight out of a 2000s teen movie. 

She holds herself accountable again, much more seriously, on the mid-album ballad, “making the bed." It’s one of my favorites; she chastises herself for her self-destructive choices in the time between her two albums.

Though she stays in her previously established genre, Rodrigo goes further on this album in conjunction with her age. She is more mature in her self-reflection and the situations she explores, even as the album leans more into an old-school Avril Lavigne-esque sound. 

Rodrigo’s lyrics have always been biting and specific, but "GUTS" utilizes more humor — poking fun at heartbreaks she might have sang about with anguish on her first album.

“I wanna meet his mom/just to tell her her son sucks!” she said on the bridge of “get him back!”– a line that could be screamed in a car or texted in a rant to a group chat. 

“Vampire," the first single from "GUTS," is the best example of Rodrigo’s changing circumstances. It’s a song that would fit on "SOUR" in theme and production, but its target isn’t just a boy who broke her heart, but someone who used her for fame. 

Though these albums are inextricably linked by their similarities, the final song “teenage dream” is a much more distraught ending than "hope ur ok" the last track on "SOUR." 

“Yeah, they all say that it gets better, it gets better/but what if I don’t?” she asked in the bridge to "teenage dream." 

"GUTS" is an album that doubles down on Rodrigo’s public image. She’s the same and different. A contradiction that many people her age, including myself, often feel as they grow.

So, if you're feeling contradictory, press play on "GUTS" on the way to an engagement party — you can thank me later.


@dthlifestyle |

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