22-year-old Norwegian artist Marie Ulven records and performs as Girl In Red. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist, she combines indie lo-fi sounds with pop rock. True to her alias, she is often spotted in her signature red hoodie and skater girl baggy jeans.
Girl In Red is a Potent Lyricist
What is truly remarkable about Ulven is her powerful lyricism. She never shies away from hard-hitting topics like mental health, sexuality, confusion, and heartbreak. Marie’s refusal to sugarcoat her thoughts and feelings has won her a large indie following across the globe.
Girl In Red’s song’s juggle poeticism with catchy upbeat music to rage around your room in. Singing about her sexuality, she broke through in 2017 after releasing her hit song ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend‘ (now streaming with over 170 Million plays on Spotify). This resulted in a passionate fanbase that informally reshaped her platform as a Queer and LQBTQI+ friendly space. With the dialogue always strong on progress and acceptance, the question “Do you listened to girl in red?” became used as a Queer identifier amongst music fans.
If I Could Make It Go Quiet was composed during coronavirus lockdown. It was independently produced through AWAL and Ulven’s World In Red Label. 33 minutes long, the album is balanced in a way that will keep Girl In Red’s hardcore fandom happy while taking her material in a more mature direction.
“I’ve been having a really, really tough time struggling with my mental health,” Ulven shared in a recent interview with i-D, “and sometimes it just feels like everything is so fucking loud — every feeling and thought takes over your entire body, all of your mind capacity. This album title is about wanting to deal with that noise and for it not to be so loud, or not to be so hard.”
A Horny Lovesick Mess
The album’s lead single ‘Serotonin’ is an unfiltered retelling of intrusive thoughts caused by her obsessive-compulsive and generalized anxiety disorders. “I’m running low on serotonin,” Girl In Red sings, “Chemical imbalance got me twisting things, stabilize with medicine”. Ebbs and flows of synthesizer mash together on a catchy baseline tempo.
‘You Stupid Bitch’ follows on. It is a song about a friendship that should have been more. Heavy on the guitar and fast drum beats, a more rowdy side of Marie is put on display. “Some people have called my music ‘Cute Bedroom Songs’,” Ulven shared in a recent interview with NME. “I’m like, ‘What the f**k are you talking about?'” Here Girl In Red comes across aggressive yet catchy.
The song is counterposed with more euphoric songs like ‘Midnight Love’ that transport listeners to a lonely, lovesick land. “I always give in,” Marie sings, “To give you it all. I can’t be your midnight love.” Each word smooth and dancing together between breaths. The album dives into darker elements of adulthood in a soft yet angry way. They take us by the hand and walk us through a landscape of experiences she’s had with girls, the struggle of life, and letting yourself down.
On ‘Hornylovesickmess’, Ulven relates the frustration of being horny on tour surrounded by only men and feeling like she messed up her last relationship. “Like it’s been months since I’ve had sex,” she shares. “I’m Just a horny little lovesick mess.”
Girl In Red Explores Cheating and Self-Love
Explicit in title, ‘Did you Come?’ is about being cheated on. The lyrics resemble jealous babbling from a diary, over-drawn-out keys, and echoes. Using minimal words the lyrics hit hard, while the drums play a foot-tapping beat. “Did you do the things you know now?” Ulven asks, “Roll your tongue, make her cum twenty times?”
Fittingly the next song on the album, ‘Body and Mind’ sees Girl In Red calling herself out for not loving herself enough. The vocals and composition on ‘I’ll Call You Mine’ resemble more of her original style. It reaffirms Ulven’s adaptability between her new vibe and what fans already love.
On ‘Apartment 402’ Girl In Red sings about the place she lives in and calls home. Synthesizers and auto-tuned vocals echo a poppier style. ‘Apartment 402’, along with songs like ‘Rue’, displays a more upbeat pop theme.
Final Thoughts on ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’
If I Could Make It Go Quiet is some of Ulven’s finest work. Its music is relatable and comforting. Yes, it is true some lyrics veer too close to feeling like exaggerated therapy sessions with friends. (Marie’s fanbase often takes her candid conversations on mental health to the extreme in her Instagram comments section, often glamorizing mental illness). At times these lyrics can read like the depressing back pages of Tumblr posts. Which is why the last song on the album ‘It Would Feel Like This’, a silent instrumental track that goes for 80 seconds, is such a necessary epilogue. Despite the album’s many dark turns, it is easy to conclude from ‘It Would Feel Like This’ that Ulven finally finds serenity.
Read more of The Glitter and Gold‘s reviews here.