Album Review: if i could make it go quiet

Lucy Sullivan, Opinions Editor

2.5/5

Marie Ulven, widely known as “girl in red,” released her official debut album “if i could make it go quiet,” April 30. Having obtained a cult following from her stand-alone singles i wanna be your girlfriend and we fell in love in october (2018), expectations were high for her first major release. 

Ulven’s musical style prior to “if i could make it go quiet” could be described as soft indie rockemploying light and muffled vocals, alongside mainly acoustic guitar and drums. Although still categorized as indie rock, her new release is starkly different. Using techniques from synth-pop and EDM, “if i could make it go quiet” takes on an electrifying tone.

Track one, Serotonin is a glimpse into Ulven’s battle with mental illnesserratically switching between verses with rap and synth that detail her intrusive thoughts, and a slower chorus that is reminiscent of her past work, in which she explains the emotional toll of coping with depression and anxiety. Though lyrically and conceptually interesting, Seratonin’s lack of consistency makes it hard to listen to, as the two styles clash.  

This is a critique that  applies to most of the other tracks on the album, especially track 2, Did You Come? as its beat is nearly identical to Serotonin’s. 

Arguably the most disappointing track is Body and Mind. Again, a lyrically strong confessional about the intersection of heartbreak and mental illness is ruined by unnecessarily dramatic electronic additives. Had Ulven left more space for her lyrics to speak for themselves like she had done earlier in her career, rather than drowning them out with circa-2014 EDM beat drops, the song would have a much more profound effect. 

Although some tracks miss the mark, others prove that Ulven’s new style has potential. Track 10, I’ll Call You Mine, is a look into the trials and triumphs of a sapphic teenage love story using her classic guitar and drums in conjunction with a synthetic beat. I’ll Call You Mine is what the rest of the album should have been—a cohesive blend of the beautiful simplicity that makes i wanna be your girlfriend and we fell in love in october so enjoyable, and the electro-pop sound that is currently so popular. 

The final minute and 20 seconds of the 33-minute album is a piano solo, being cut with violin about halfway through, titled it would feel like this. This is the only song whose title is stylistically lowercase, and clearly a response to the album’s title “if i could make it go quiet,” it would feel like this is refreshing. It almost acts as a palette cleanser, allowing listeners a moment of peace to sit with the lyrics that they hear over the course of the album and, in a way, counteract the over-the-top feeling produced by some of the other song’s beats.

Aside from some glaringly questionable stylistic choices, Ulven’s future in indie pop/rock has potential, as long as she sticks to her strengths. She represents a new wave of young women navigating the timeless struggles of mental illness, sexuality, and the transition into adulthood. While “if i could make it go quiet” strays from Ulven’s prior sound, it’s fundamental similarities make it so that it can still be enjoyed by long-time “girl in red” fans. I am excited to see what she comes out with next, and hope to see more songs like I’ll Call You Mine released in the future.