By Garrett Strickler
Artist: Colleen Green
Label: Hardly Art
Released: February 24, 2015
It’s not uncommon to hear young people express the desire to grow up, to be more responsible, and to gain control of their life. It is uncommon to hear that desire expressed by a 30-year old rock n roll singer. In many ways, Green represents a charming hybrid of early Jenny Lewis’ (Rilo Kiley) starry-eyed melancholy and Bethany Consentino’s (Best Coast) blunt power chords and cuteness, but lyrically she distinguishes herself as something altogether different.
Her songwriting bears a distinctly modern flair- so modern that it makes Best Coast’s debut album sound like it was released a decade ago- by peeling back only the most immediate layers of youthful anxiety in the most literal way possible. Green would much rather tell you about her unapologetic reliance on television or how she has trouble paying attention (“TV” and “Pay Attention”) than construct a narrative or wax poetic. Green is always the protagonist and the focus of her songs is sharing her inner monologues with the listener. As a result, the spirit of many of these songs leans closer to Drake or early Kanye than to other singer-songwriters.
The primary appeal of the album is the lyrical content, but there are signs of inexperience where certain vocal cadences match up poorly with song rhythms and keep otherwise incisive lines obscured or diminished. Likewise, the softness of the production is likely intended to keep the record feeling feminine (as the all pink album cover would suggest), but many of the lyrics would bite harder if the instruments were allowed to bite as well. The biggest problem for Green comes in the middle of songs during guitar breaks or instrumental bridges. In most cases, the build-up during the song is never truly satisfied and guitar or synth fills feel obligatory rather than helpful or meaningful. This should only be a temporary problem though, it’s only a matter of time before she meets the right guitar player or producer who can help her fill in these gaps.
The tell-tale sign of I Want To Grow Up is that best and most interesting song, “Deeper Than Love” sounds nothing like the rest of the record. It is a synth-heavy, low, murmured electro-pop song and it does the best job of nailing the inner anxiety that Green wants to share with us, “Is there anything stronger than biology, is love being ruined by technology?… And once you get to know me you won’t love me anymore”. Even after repeated listens, the song continues to hit in different places with real weight. This would seem to indicate that perhaps Green has not yet landed on her true artistic voice moving forward, maybe she’s got a few more avenues to explore.
There are certainly listeners who will find I Want To Grow Up relatable and affirming, but there seems to be an inherent contradiction there. As Green herself says, she wants to grow up, she wants to be somebody different from the person who recorded this album. Naturally, those who share that sentiment are hoping for the same, and in that hope, they’re hoping that one day they won’t always be afraid of intimacy or best friends with their TV.