Music Reviews

“A Bold and Unapologetic Debut Album” – Album Review: ‘if i could make it go quiet’ – girl in red

Gemma Cockrell

“‘if i could make it go quiet’ is an attempt to learn what it’s like to be human; to deal with the scariest parts of myself; to live with the pain of knowing i’m only flesh and bones; to be angry, broken and unforgiving yet still able to wear my heart on my sleeve; i’m shedding light on the darkest parts of my mind and i’m letting everyone in,” Marie Ulven (aka girl in red) said of her bold and unapologetic debut album.

This statement is proven immediately with the lead single and first track on the album, Serotonin. Prior to this, Ulven was primarily associated with soft bedroom-pop romantic ballads, but as it turns out, she has much more to offer. Lyrically, the track delves deep into the inside of her mind, painting a detailed and dark picture of her thoughts. It is perhaps the boldest and most honest song that she has ever released, and it is captivating.

People who fell in love with Ulven’s initial lo-fi bedroom-pop aesthetic may not be fully on-board with this new sound, but Serotonin is more ambitious than anything that she she has ever released before. It sees her truly transform from being trapped under the label of bedroom-pop into an artist capable of much more. This stylistic shift was assisted by FINNEAS, brother and producer of Billie Eilish, who co-produced the track. He brings a novel, darker pop sound to Ulven’s work, similar to the sound of some of Eilish’s work. 

She sounds comfortable and confident on top of this dark and pounding pop instrumental

Body And Mind further experiments with the darker side of pop, and the Billie Eilish comparisons are unavoidable here. Both the bass-driven warping instrumental and Ulven’s vocal tone sound similar to some of the cuts from Eilish’s debut ‘WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?’. However, this is a style which suits Ulven well and she sounds comfortable and confident on top of this dark and pounding pop instrumental. The similarities may be obvious, but fans of Eilish’s work are sure to enjoy this track.

Did You Come builds on Ulven’s previous themes about love and relationships, subverting this theme to tackle the topic of being rejected in favour of another woman. Ulven’s presence on the track is commanding, as she vents her feelings of resentment when thinking about her former lover having sex with someone else, without filter or hesitation.

hornylovesickmess, unsurprisingly from the song title, continues with this theme. However, it also interestingly explores Ulven’s relatively sudden rise to fame. She speaks of her struggles with the touring lifestyle, and how it leaves her unable to hold down intimate relationships.

You Stupid B*tch, which was released a couple of weeks prior to the rest of the album, is a stand-out track. It is a bold indie banger, complete with repetitive and catchy ‘woahs’ in the verses and a memorable sing-a-long chorus. The track is infused with a sassy and feisty attitude, as Ulven repeatedly sings “You stupid b*tch / Can’t you see / The perfect one for you is me.” The song was inspired by unreciprocated love, a situation she compared with the famous The Perks of Being a Wallflower quote “we accept the love we think we deserve”.

midnight love and Rue were both released back in 2020. These tracks are perhaps the most similar to the lo-fi bedroom-pop that Ulven started her career with, which follows logically since they are the oldest tracks on the album. midnight love discusses similar themes to Did You Come: feeling like you are second best, albeit here they are portrayed in a more innocent and sombre tone. Meanwhile, Rue serves as an ode to Ulven’s loved ones who have been affected by her mental health, inspired by her identification with the character Rue from HBO’s Euphoria.

Ulven bravely and emotionally admits that she is “not doing so well”

Overall, the latter half of the album is more reminiscent of Ulven’s past work. Rue’s use of a simple acoustic guitar driven instrumental can also be seen elsewhere towards the end of the tracklist, on songs such as I’ll Call You Mine which further explores mental health as Ulven bravely and emotionally admits that she is “not doing so well”. Apartment 402 is also an understated ballad, but instead of acoustic guitar it is accompanied by an instrumental of layered piano keys and synths.

Despite the fact that many tracks on the album continue to mirror elements of her older sound, Ulven presented herself in “a completely different light, one much darker than ever before” on ‘if i could make it go quiet’. The album is a varied and diverse celebration of her ability to continue to develop her bedroom-pop sound whilst also crafting catchy indie bangers and captivating dark pop. It presents an artist who through experimentation has found her many strengths, and has used her debut album to share them with the world.

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Fabian Fjeldvick, permission to use granted to Impact by Rick Moreno. No changes were made to this image.

In article images courtesy of @girlinred via Instagram. No changes were made to these images.

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