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The Sunflower

REVIEW: ‘GUTS (spilled)’ is pop rock ear candy

Photo+courtesy+of+Olivia+Rodrigo
Photo courtesy of Olivia Rodrigo

Six months after the release of her critically acclaimed album, “GUTS” and in the middle of her GUTS World Tour, Olivia Rodrigo jumps back into the pool with five new songs in her new “GUTS (spilled),” the deluxe album for “GUTS.”

“obsessed” is the 13th track for the album, and it is considered to be the biggest and best song out of the new songs. It starts with Rodrigo harmonizing with an undertoning bassline. As she gets to the first verse, the drums and guitar slowly come in, building more and more momentum with each passing second. Finally, as Rodrigo reaches the chorus, the buildup vanishes as if it never existed. Rodrigo sings the chorus in an airy and whispery cadence similar to Billie Eilish, but once again it builds up. As soon as the momentum is gone, it is picked up and it is an explosion of Pop Rock ear candy.

As the title explains, this song is about an obsession Rodrigo has. But the difference is that this obsession is over an ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend. The song is written in such a way, it makes me wonder if Rodrigo has developed a longing limerence over the ex or is obsessed in the regard that she wants to be just like her. There are many lines to go with this theory, like when Rodrigo describes her as the life of the party, being good with kids, and speaking kindly to others. Rodrigo even asks her boyfriend if “she is easy-going? Never controlling? / Well-traveled? Well-read? Oh God, she makes me so upset.” With this in mind, it makes me wonder if Rodrigo sees the ex as the “perfect girlfriend” and wants to be like her irresistibly so.

I do agree with “obsessed” being the biggest song of the new five; it is punchy and is the most bombastic; however, I don’t think it is the best song of these new releases. For me, that goes to the following song, “girl i’ve always been.” According to the Olivia Rodrigo fandom, it is a song about how Rodrigo has always been the same person and will always be that person no matter who betrays her. It is in the style of a country ballad with a strum-along chord progression and a country twang to her voice. Even one of Rodrigo’s opening lines is “Baby doll” to contribute to this aesthetic.

What I love about this song is that it sounds unlike any other song she has ever made. It takes the reins of the country genre and rides it well. In fact, the chord progression is one of the most ear-catching and soothing melodies Rodrigo has ever made. It is a textbook definition of why simplicity is impactful if done well. The way I see it, “obsessed” is another song which belongs in a collector’s case next to “brutal,” “bad idea right?” and “get him back!” as being comfortable, head-rattling pop rock.

The final three songs, “scared of my guitar,” “stranger” and “so american” are more forgettable songs, but are nice listens regardless. “scared of my guitar” has an ironic placement on the album since it is placed next to “girl i’ve always been,” with one of Rodrigo’s most elegant and beautiful guitar songs in her discography. “scared of my guitar” does have one of Rodrigo’s best vocal lines in her career so far, with the line “I pretend that it’s love.” This song also takes a detour from Rodrigo’s usual work. It is a song about her confusing and overwhelming thoughts she has with her music sometimes. 

The sixteenth and seventeenth tracks for the deluxe album are “stranger” and “so american.” “stranger” is another guitar ballad about accepting that an ex-boyfriend is gone and done with; he is now a stranger. “so american” is the exact opposite of “stranger.” It is an electro-rock song about Rodrigo falling for a guy after he wooed her. I like that these two songs are back to back, because it shows Rodrigo’s duality with her romanticism in her music. “so american” is also the only song here that wasn’t included on her Secret Tracks EP back in November. 

As alway with Rodrigo, these songs are a beautiful addition to her discography and really display her talent, especially “girl i’ve always been.” I look forward to seeing what she will make for us next.

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About the Contributor
Tyler Guthrie, Columnist
Tyler Guthrie is a second-year columnist with The Sunflower. He is a creative writing major with a Spanish minor from El Dorado, Kansas. Guthrie uses he/him pronouns.

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