Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘GUTS’ marks massive career advancement

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Caroline Puckett

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the release of her acclaimed single “drivers license,” followed by her debut album “SOUR,” Olivia Rodrigo has become a prominent name amongst pop’s elite. Rodrigo’s talent and sound have made room for her extremely anticipated sophomore album “GUTS.” Collaborating once again with producer Daniel Nigro, the pair create a dynamic story of development, womanhood and love, held together by a mixture of modern pop-punk and profound ballads.

The opening track, “all american b—h,” has a captivating duality lyrically and rhythmically. The song draws us in with wispy, feathery vocals that paint images of Coca-Cola hair curlers, perfect vintage smiles and Euro-centric beauty standards that feel disingenuous. As it progresses, there is a sense that Rodrigo has taken a step to reveal her genuine feelings, singing with more speed and forte and unleashing her truth. This vocal feature is recurring in other tracks, such as “ballad of a homeschool girl” and “get him back!” The honesty, intimacy and vulnerability she shares with her listeners exhibit why Rodrigo described the record as nothing other than “gutsy.”

In regards to love, “GUTS” provides us with an exposed history of Rodrigo’s recent experiences. She covers her self-awareness in the spoken word “bad idea right,” her romantic frustration in “vampire,” and the often coveted effects that relationships have on young people in “the grudge.” She is fearless in speaking about the painful and often embarrassing truths of being a young person in love, thus comes the inclusion of the tracks “love is embarrassing” and “logical.” As these reveal Rodrigo’s expansion in her personal life and relationships, they simultaneously present the most vocal and sonic evolution we have heard from her yet. In guitar riffs that manage to turn the concept of overcompensation into a sound, and in euphonious belts charged with passion, it is obvious that the young singer has produced her best work up to this point.

In contrast to the growth in the aforementioned tracks, “lacy” and “pretty isn’t pretty” display a message reminiscent of earlier work, such as “jealousy, jealousy” and “happier.” The commonalities of these pieces include vocals that mimic bouts of anger, offsetting additional hushed sounds and detailed descriptions of Rodrigo’s experience with a lack of self-confidence. It is fitting that these tracks share a similar sound to those from her previous album, as they reveal a lack of growth in Rodrigo’s mindset. To give credit where credit is due, “making the bed” confronts the sources of her insecurity, which she traces back to expectations in her career and treatment from society, but mainly herself. This recurring self-awareness in the record makes it easier for listeners to feel a relation to these messages, and a connection to Rodrigo herself.

Put simply, this album is a full swing, a full stride forward and a full view. It is the story of a former teenage girl transitioning into what she feels is now adulthood. It is a showcase of development. For 39 minutes, listeners experience what it is like to be a young woman blossoming in the spotlight, and accredited to immense talent, it is somehow crafted into an enjoyable and relatable experience. In very Rodrigo fashion, the last song of the record, “teenage dream,” leaves us with a poetic question: “They all say that it gets better, but what if I don’t?” This question captures every sentiment that this album gifts us with, and is one we know the answer to.

As of Sept. 8, 2023, “GUTS” is available for streaming on every major music platform.

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About the Contributor
Caroline Puckett, Graphic Artist
Caroline (she/her) is a graduate student from Brownsville, Texas studying Health, Community and Policy. She is a passionate artist with a love for graphic design and illustration. On any given day, you will find Caroline re-watching her favorite shows, drawing in her sketchbook or crocheting tote bags.

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