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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

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‘GUTS (spilled)’: ‘MIXED (bag)’

“GUTS” is Olivia Rodrigo’s sophomore album, initially released in Sept. 2023. With its themes of young adult angst, it captured the minds of teens and 20-somethings alike. “GUTS (spilled)” added five new unreleased songs, expanding and adding to the original album’s themes. 

Her first album, “Sour,” focuses on the woes of young love and life at 17, but “GUTS” deals with the angst of growing up from 18 to 20. From ballads about hating a girl but also maybe being in love with her (“lacy”) to pop-rock numbers about still being in love with your crazy ex-boyfriend (“get him back!”), Rodrigo is able to express the rocky transition from adolescence to adulthood. “GUTS,” with only 12 tracks, covers all these subjects. The additional four songs in “GUTS (spilled)” are a mixed bag ranging from incredible to alright. The songs in release order are:

“obsessed”: A homoerotic anthem in the same vein as “lacy.” It’s about the singer’s obsession with her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend, almost to the point of being in love with her. With a good bass line and a punchy chorus, this song is the best of all the new songs. This one is also the only one with a music video, which is of the same quality as the “good 4 u” music video — one of Rodrigo’s best. This song is sure to go down as a classic pop-rock song.

“girl i’ve always been”: A folksy number about realizing that it’s your partner’s fault, but you haven’t changed that much. In this number, Rodrigo has taken inspiration from the musical stylings of Lucy Gray Baird (from “The Ballad of Songbird of Snakes,” which Rodrigo wrote a song for), and I can’t say I hate it. I’ve got a soft spot for country music, and this song reminds me of Taylor Swift’s early days in the best way.

“scared of my guitar”: A slow ballad following a relationship between a singer-songwriter and her trusted guitar. She’s emotionally honest with the guitar and her art when she can’t be honest with anyone else. It’s a tremendous emotional rollercoaster with sad, slow vocals and devastating lyrics that cut right to the heart. While not one of Rodrigo’s best ballads, the voices convey such genuine sadness that it’s worth listening to just for the vocals.  

“stranger”: A light song about being over a breakup and being glad that it’s over. This song seems more in line with the Top 40 hits somewhere between Taylor Swift’s “Evermore” album and Sabrina Carpenter’s “emails i can’t send.” It feels more pop than the rest of Rodrigo’s brand, but it’s still a solid song. It’s less focused on the angst of the breakup and more on the acceptance.

“so american”: This one feels like a return to form for Olivia Rodrigo. It’s a punk twist on a song that would play in a John Hughes movie. It’s a significant number about being stupidly in love with someone, and it feels more optimistic than most of her catalog. 

Overall, these songs are good, but there’s a reason they were not included in the original album. For each new song, there is a song on the original that better covers the new song’s themes. Even so, they are all relatively catchy and worth a listen. Overall, they are a welcome addition to Ms. Olivia Rodrigo’s growing body of work.