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“Guts” Review: Alt-Punk Album in a Dreamy Pop Aesthetic

Rhiju Chakraborty ’27

Contributing Writer

After months of releasing singles and putting out easter eggs all teasing the arrival of her newest Album, Olivia Rodrigo, former Disney Channel star turned overnight pop sensation, finally released her sophomore album, “Guts,” on Sept. 8. The singer who had previously gained widespread recognition for her debut album “Sour,” an album that shattered records and eventually earned the artist three Grammys, continued her exploration of the pop-rock genre, through the 12-set tracklist of “Guts.”

The songs on her latest albums sonically range from soft-pop ballads (“Lacy”), gut-wrenching songs whose lyrics you can scream in the shower (“Vampire”) and absolute punk songs inspired from the likes of late 2000 punk icons, like Hayley Williams.

With “Guts,” Rodrigo did something provocative that went beyond just the lines of Music. She did what very few female artists have been able to do in the past few decades by choosing to not go through
a sonic reinvention and continue where she left off with “Sour.” Her pop contemporaries, most notably Taylor Swift and Beyonce, have had such a long lasting career in a field that has famously pigeon-holed its female artists, partly due to their ability to shapeshift through the different genres and eras.

It has almost become an expectation as a culture to want something completely new and fresh from the musicians we consume our music from, especially every time they release new music. As it adds a level of excitement that transcends their music from just music to culture. Being an artist in the music industry has translated to being a full-on circus act that has to balance being on a tightrope while juggling several different stunts all at once.

But despite the similar visual aesthetics of the album to her debut album “Sour,” the 20-year-old Nevada native does experiment with new sounds in “Guts.” Even her vocals sound a lot more mature than the voice we heard just a couple of years ago in “Sour.” With the vocal growth, there has also been growth lyrically, with Rodrigo herself confessing to Rolling Stone Magazine that prior to starting this album, she had no idea where to begin. This was a major difference from when she’d started working on her debut album “Sour,” where she’d used heartbreak as a musical motivator. Despite the lack of inspiration, she utilized a work ethic with her co-writer Dan Nigro that allowed her to truly create a sense of discipline for herself to get the album finished.

“Guts,” lyrically, is surprisingly more sour than the artist’s debut album that shares the same name. While there is diversity sonically in the album, the actual songs range from breakup songs to songs about toxic relationships and broken friendships. So if Rodrigo was trying to spill her guts through this album, she succeeded.

While it is too soon to gauge the commercial impact this album will have, it’s clear that it is already had a cultural impact, evidenced by the virality of the songs on popular social media apps, like TikTok and Instagram. With familiar elements borrowed from the music scene of the late 2000s, “Guts” is a newer take on a familiar genre of music. And despite the pressures the artist claims to have felt after an exceedingly successful debut, with its mixture of pop ballads and punk alt music, “Guts” is undeniably pop perfection at its finest.

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“Guts” Review: Alt-Punk Album in a Dreamy Pop Aesthetic


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