girl in red - aka Norwegian artist Marie Ulven - has established herself impressively fast as a songwriter whose bedroom-based efforts are deeply confessional and awash with romance. On her debut LP she ramps up the production to create a neon, adolescent sprawl while remaining true to her heartfelt, lo-fi roots.
Akin to Billie Eilish’s ‘When We All Fall Asleep…’ and Lorde’s ‘Melodrama’ before, ‘if i could make it go quiet’ has all the qualities of a blockbuster pop record - incessant hooks, A-list producer credits - but hone in on each track and you’ll find intimate vignettes that are fully-formed in themselves. ‘Serotonin’ is a dazzling starting point that contradicts its subject matter - Marie addresses having OCD for the first time, as well as more general life anxieties - via an upbeat FINNEAS-produced arrangement. When she sings “I get intrusive thoughts like burning my hair off / Like hurting somebody I love” in its heady breakdown, she turns those violent sentiments into something positive, validating and dismissing them at the same time.
This sense of inclusive affirmation runs through ‘if i could make it go quiet’ as she captures the unruly gorgeousness and opposing confusion and grief of adolescence. “I cannot live like this no more,” she blares at the huge climax of ‘Body And Mind’, manifesting the intensity of those emotions through brilliant volume, while on the gentler, piano-led ‘Apartment 402’ she reflects the bleakness of depression in more sparse strokes.
Ultimately, though, girl in red’s charm lies in her overarching wide-eyed excitability, and it’s her optimism that brings this record to life. On ‘hornylovesickmess’ there’s not a shred of ego present when she sings about seeing her own face on a billboard in Times Square; it feels like a moment shared with a mate, in awe of their accomplishment - not her first, and certainly not her last, if this soaring debut is anything to go by.