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The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

The Student News Site of St. Edward's University

Hilltop Views

REVIEW: Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album cultivates relatability for all listeners

Keira Lee / Hilltop Views
“GUTS” marks Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album that takes listener’s on a journey through self-hatred, bad love and the troubles of growing up in fame.

Earlier this month, star-studded songwriter Olivia Rodrigo fed popular culture with the release of her sophomore album “GUTS.” Before the full album hit stands, two singles took the world by storm in a classy introduction to Rodrigo’s new era. Those singles gave an inside-look into what to expect from the upcoming release: once the album dropped, it was clear that Rodrigo wasn’t going for the big rebrand many were anticipating.

The album almost feels like a continuation of her first album, “SOUR;” while production sounds the same, Rodrigo explores more mature concepts vocally and lyrically. Through original and refreshing melodies, she sings about personal strifes that strike a relatable chord within audiences, allowing for the listen of a lifetime.

Personally, I was all for her subtle hints of self-hatred throughout the album. In songs like “love is embarrassing” and “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” Rodrigo draws listeners in with catchy choruses that ring with relatability through and through. The confessions of young love and the stressors of adulthood boil up and allow people, young or old, to find a point within the album to relate to. This common theme of resentment sometimes shows it’s face in the form of straight up fear, as echoed in the albums closing track “teenage dream” where Rodrigo pulls on heartstrings one last time before ending the listening experience with her shouts: “Yeah they all say it gets better / It gets better, but what if I don’t?”

Following themes of self-loathing and overbearing fears, “GUTS” also invites a sense of nostalgia to the overall listen through tracks like “pretty isn’t pretty” where her effortlessly layered vocals are accompanied by a clean guitar that is reminiscent of the early 2000s. Rodrigo’s musical take on these nostalgic feelings add to the album’s relatability and acts as a reminder to listeners that, at the end of the day, she is just a girl: a young girl learning her place in this world through success and failure just like everyone else. 

Rodrigo’s relatability also shines through with the use of her theatrical melodies and vocal inflections. The vocals in songs like “all-american bitch,” “bad idea right?” and “get him back!” dance around in an almost condescending way that is very entertaining to sing along with. It gives the album room to breathe in between the powerhouse piano ballads that are sprinkled throughout. 

And, of course, an album from Rodrigo would not be complete without pristine production and amazingly-mixed vocals that consistently ring of truth and fear. Her vocal talent was showcased right off the bat with the first single “vampire” in which a classic piano melody expertly complemented her crisp vocals. Songs like “making the bed” and “logical” give listeners an easy reminder as to why she became so popular in the first place: original lyrics that bring you into her world, coated with powerhouse vocals. 

This sophomore album is just the tip of the iceberg for Rodrigo, with this near-continuation of her past work allowing for her to continue to explore more mature themes while maintaining a similar production style. Though similar, “GUTS” offers an entertaining listen that’s flowing with tangible relatability many can sing along to. Overall, I would rate it a four out of five goats. I have a strong feeling Rodrigo’s sound is only going to continue to grow from here, and I can’t wait to see how her songwriting discusses more relatable topics as she continues to mature within the music industry. 

This is only the beginning. 

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About the Contributor
Claire Lawrence, Editor-in-Chief
Claire is a senior Communication major with a minor in Journalism continuing to dedicate her time growing and learning as a student journalist. Claire has been with Hilltop Views for three years. This is her second year as Editor-in-Chief. Previously, she served as a Staff Writer and as News Editor. Outside of St. Edward's, Claire plays bass in Austin-local band "Losers." Though she is graduating soon, she hopes to leave her mark in the newsroom and inspire other students to get involved with their campus paper.

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