Girl in Red speaks to the modern teenage experience with ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’

Photo of Girl in Red
AWAL Recordings Ltd/Courtesy

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Fans cannot stop screaming their praise in response to the release of the long-anticipated debut album If I Could Make It Go Quiet, from rising Norweigen artist Marie Ulven — known as Girl in Red — who cleverly blends genres to encapsulate the chaotic serenity that is coming of age as a teenager in the modern world. 

On her debut, Ulven speaks directly to both her abusers and lovers in a raw, intimate way, allowing for her lyrics to feel more like a diary entry or a conversation with a close friend than a mainstream indie album written for the masses. While some of the tracks veer into a musical style unflattering to Ulven’s narrative storytelling and fails to mesh cohesively with the overall tone of her LP, the record as a whole breathes like a beautifully nurtured adolescent itself, resonating with listeners in all walks of life. 

Ulven captures a sound that effortlessly bridges the genres of alternative, indie and pop; her debut is full of reverb-heavy songs with a personal twist. Many of the album’s songs are simple love stories that represent and normalize the LGBTQ+ experience, continuing to be an inspiration to many young teens looking for a queer role model as they explore their own sexualities.

If I Could Make It Go Quiet broaches adolescent struggles with mental health in a brutally honest way directly echoed in the music itself. In the opening track “Serotonin,” Ulven uses a synthesized version of her voice that portrays a personified aggressive, intrusive thought, taking the content of the lyrics and representing them musically to reinforce the debilitating, omnipresent grip mental illness has on teens. She sings, “Intrusive thoughts like cutting my hands off / Like jumping in front of a bus” in an eerie, metallic tone, then cuts to a sweet, lilting, lullaby-style chorus, mirroring the fractured range of emotion someone with the “chemical imbalance” she describes experiences. 

Ulven has spoken about the direct influences artists such as Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish have had on her music, transparent in her attempt to reproduce their ability to release a collection of songs that speaks directly to either the listeners themselves or those who have wronged them. The majority of the lyrics reading the way excerpts from an angry breakup text or angsty journaling would; Ulven doesn’t shy away from sharing any intimate details, asking her past lover in the second track “Did You Come?” “Was she good? Just what you like / Did you cum? How many times?” along with other questions about their sexual experience to feel redemption or satisfaction after her break up, voicing the classic impulsive, emotional behavior of a teenager spiting their ex. 

However, at other points, Ulven’s mimicry endeavors lead to some of her most disappointing tracks, such as “You Stupid Bitch” and “Body and Mind,” where the lyrics are strong, but the melodies and musical production are forced to align with the styles of other artists too much. These songs stray from the originality and whimsical quality that the best Girl in Red songs hold. Pushing more rock-oriented, beat-driven songs is where she falters — not only does it not match the storytelling narratively, but it actually hinders the accessibility of the music. Transitioning the chorus in “You Stupid Bitch” to that of “Rue” would have exponentially helped the quality of the tracks. 

With If I Could Make It Go Quiet, Girl in Red proves that she is not simply a solo artist who can release one-off hits. As she sings in “Apartment 402,” Ulven “Empties her heart, lays down her cards” and puts it all on the table in her debut album, using her vulnerability and talent as a lyricist and musician to make a name for herself as she officially enters the industry as a signed artist, dazzling young listeners worldwide with an LP that is essentially a tangible, eloquent rendering of their inner dialogue they simply cannot articulate themselves.

Contact Chloe Forssell at cforssel[email protected].