Album Reviews, Arts & Entertainment

The latest in music: spilling your GUTS and getting Bewitched

Spilling my GUTS on Olivia Rodrigo’s new album

Sept. 8th marked the release of GUTS, Olivia Rodrigo’s highly anticipated sophomore album. Her first album, Sour, broke records for the longest-reigning debut album in the Billboard 200 Top 10 and hit the world with a wickedly ensnaring set of songs. Following such a powerful and evocative debut album, many fans were apprehensive to hear her new work. Now, more than two years later, GUTS has finally hit streaming platforms, shooting to the top of the charts. 

While I don’t personally gravitate towards pop music, and I must admit that I was unwillingly introduced to her new album through my roommate, this album stands out. Her lyrics resonate with any young woman growing up in today’s world. Rodrigo dives into a poignant critique of society’s patriarchal expectations of her as someone who broke into the music industry at a young age. In ‘Making the Bed,’ she sings “They love me like I’m some tourist attraction,” reminding listeners that under the shroud of fame, she is simply a young woman trying to figure out life like the rest of us. Aside from these fiery attacks, Rodrigo lets us reminisce about old romances and bad relationship choices in tracks like ‘Bad Idea, Right?’ and ‘Get Him Back!’ Conversely, if you want to feel pulled back to those awkward moments of growing up that we all sheepishly laugh about, queue up ‘Ballad of a Homeschool Girl.’ 

From heartfelt, to defiant, to comedic, the album’s got a song for every listener, and the streams reflect it: The album has been killing the Top 10 and garnered the most streams in the UK for the past week. In releasing the singles ‘Vampire’ and ‘Bad Idea, Right?’ over the summer, //GUTS// hooked its listeners, and gained frenzied traction for the album’s release. So let loose your previous music preferences and take time to listen to this new album. Or, if you only have time for one song, I recommend “All-American Bitch.” Perhaps it’s just the New Jersey in me talking, but it’s a personal favourite.

Laufey’s Bewitched: The perfect rom-com soundtrack where you’re the main character

On Sept. 8 2023, just as autumn’s touch began to grace the air, Laufey released her second album, Bewitched. Across the album’s fourteen tracks, the Icelandic-Chinese singer-songwriter focuses on themes of romance, unrequited love, and, through it all, coming of age. 

What differentiates Laufey (pronounced Lay-vay) from other popular artists is her roots in classical music and jazz. Growing up, Laufey’s family greatly influenced her varied music taste. She learned the piano after developing an interest in jazz, inherited from her father. On the other hand, her classical talents came from her maternal grandfather, who was a retired violin professor from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and her mother and twin sister who were both violinists. Laufey chose the cello instead.

The album’s opener, ‘Dreamer,’ starts off with an almost stubborn optimism about finding someone to love. The beginning vocals evoke a swing-era tune, while the lyrics send a kind of warning to listeners that the journey ahead isn’t an easy one. In ‘Promise,’ the chorus “It hurts to be something, it’s worse to be nothing with you” encapsulates the agony of falling for someone who, though unsuitable, holds an irreplaceable place in one’s heart. The album’s most listened-to song is a catchy, lighthearted, bossa nova track, ‘From the Start.’ The album interlude, ‘Nocturne,’ reminiscent of Frédéric Chopin who was famous for his 21 Nocturnes, brings her classical training to the forefront. In ‘Letter to My 13 Year Old Self,’ Laufey consoles her teenage self over anxieties such as having her first kiss later than other classmates, her foreign-sounding name, and being loved. In this ballad, the theme of love is redirected toward oneself, showing a young girl with high hopes and big dreams growing into an self-assured woman. Finally, the last song in the album, ‘Bewitched,’ portrays the strange sensation of falling for someone as flutes and harps sing arabesques, the mysterious and magical melody leaving the listener spellbound. 

As the weather cools down and sweaters and scarves slowly make their way back into our wardrobes, Bewitched offers an enchanting soundtrack for anyone who has found someone to share their time. Or, it can be a way to spend their time by themselves and ponder on that dream, if desired, coming true.  

Bewitched is available to listen on all streaming platforms.

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