NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Album Review: ‘Guts’ by Olivia Rodrigo

Photo of singer Olivia RodrigoPhoto by Geffen Records

“Guts” Album Cove

In a September dominated by headlines of Taylor Swift and Beyonce touring the world, Olivia Rodrigo made sure not to be forgotten with the release of her sophomore album GUTS on September 8th. Rodrigo had previously made massive waves with her 2021 debut SOUR, which spent five consecutive weeks at the top of the Billboard 200. To say anticipation was high for her follow up would be an understatement, as she went on to net seven Grammy nominations and three wins later that year, including Best New Artist. That level of acclaim comes with just as much pressure, as many waited to see if Rodrigo could overcome the infamous “sophomore slump” that’s plagued new pop stars’ second albums in the past. 

After the release of lead single “vampire” on June 30th and its follow up “bad idea right?” On August 8th, Rodrigo would release Guts a month later in September. Consisting of 12 tracks, the album dives into what Rodrigo referred to as “growing pains” in an interview with Pitchfork preceding “vampire’s” release. “I feel like I grew 10 years between the ages of 18 and 20—it was such an intense period of awkwardness and change.” The album explores the topics thoroughly; whether it be the self aware sarcasm of  “all-american bitch” and “bad idea right,” the self loathing on “lacy” and “making the bed,” or the gentle heart ache of “pretty isn’t pretty” and “teenage dream.” 

The album was met with widespread critical acclaim upon its release. Sites like Rolling Stone awarded it five stars, applauding Rodrigo’s sharp song-writing, as well as the embrace of pop-punk and rock stylings throughout the record. Pitchfork gave it an 8.0, an improvement over Sour’s 7.0 from 2021. “The pop star rocks out on her biting, charismatic second album,”  Cat Zhang writes in her review. “Turning the ritual humiliations of girlhood into dazzling, over-the-top spectacles.” The album currently sits at a 91 on MetaCritic, with a user score of 7.8. 

Rodrigo shares the age of many second year students here at NECC, so I went out to ask what they thought of Guts. Liberal Arts major Jasmyne Gomez was certainly a fan, saying she enjoyed all of the songs. Her particular favorites were “logical” and “lacy.” Music major Jacob McLean agreed with Jasmyne’s enthusiasm, saying he loved the album and found it better than her debut. “She played into the pop-punk aesthetic, which I really liked.” Liberal Arts major Parker Houston, although admitting to finding pop music hit or miss, still found aspects to like in Guts. “Her voice is great throughout, even though I did not relate to the album.” Gutsdebuted at number one on the Billboard 200, with all 12 tracks making it into the top 40 of the Hot 100.

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