The Norwegian singer-songwriter is back with a new track and details for her long-awaited debut album.
A question that holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of an entire generation: Does she…you know…listen to girl in red?
Innuendos aside, an answer in the affirmative wouldn’t be at all surprising. Marie Ulven has risen to indie pop superstardom since the release of breakout hits “i wanna be your girlfriend” and “we fell in love in october,” amassing millions of streams and cementing herself as an icon. Ulven, under the alias girl in red, is so deeply woven in today’s alternative fabric that listening to her has become a rite of passage, a sign of official entry into a left-of-center subculture. There’s a secret language among her loyal listeners, an unspoken understanding of a shared sapphic experience so hyper-specific to Gen Z it’s not worth explaining. “Do you listen to girl in red?” goes far beyond inquiries into your music taste: it’s a question of who you are, who you love, and where you belong. She’s hardly the first to do it – the likes of Melissa Etheridge and Indigo Girls were the LGBTQ+ innovators of Gen X, and the millennial wlw’s coming-of-age was soundtracked almost entirely by Tegan and Sara’s discography – but the torch of musical pining has been passed, and it irrefutably belongs to girl in red.
And the torch keeps burning. The 22-year-old Norwegian singer and songwriter released her newest single “Serotonin” today, along with details for her debut album if i could make it go quiet. “Serotonin” tackles self-destructive tendencies and mental health struggles through a more expansive soundscape than girl in red’s previous work, serving as first taste of varied musical palate the new album will sample.
Co-produced with Grammy-winning artist and producer FINNEAS and Matias Tellez, the track is larger than, though still rooted in, the clean guitar strums and simple backbeats that have come to characterize girl in red’s music. FINNEAS’s electronic influence here is particularly evident – a drum machine providing the pulse, doubled vocals decorating the pre-chorus, and percussive effects as intrusive as the thoughts girl in red seems to be struggling with making their presence known throughout – but the essence of her production still shines. The chorus is a breath of fresh indie-pop air, with a group of guitar licks overlapping each other and persistent percussion propelling it all forward.
Lyrically, “Serotonin” laments on the lack thereof. It’s a deep dive into the ups and downs of dealing with mental health. Managing intrusive thoughts, bouncing from prescription to prescription to maintain a sense of stability, ghosting your therapist – it’s all here. The relatability of girl in red has traditionally pandered to romantic endeavors and relationships with other people, but on “Serotonin,” she looks inward.
“‘Serotonin’ is brutally honest, lyrically, especially about having these intrusive thoughts – thoughts of never going to be okay, and thinking my therapist hates me. I stopped going to my therapist because I felt like I was such a big burden for her that she didn’t like me. I’m pretty sure a lot of people have felt that, whether it’s a friend or a family member or a therapist. I’m addressing a lot of things I haven’t been comfortable talking about, or admitting to myself, or even things to tell my closest friends and family,” she said.
This vulnerability is the focus of girl in red’s new record, set to release April 30th. Written and demoed at her home in Oslo and recorded eight hours away in Bergen, if i could make it go quiet will see girl in red at new levels of vulnerability. Though her soundscape has broadened, her lyricism has grown more intimate, tackling the deepest parts of her psyche and her understanding of the human condition.
“if i could make it go quiet is an attempt to learn what it’s like to be human; to deal with the scariest parts of myself; to live with the pain of knowing I’m only flesh and bones; to be angry, broken and unforgiving yet still able to wear my heart on my sleeve; I’m shedding light on the darkest parts of my mind and I’m letting everyone in; if i could make it go quiet is me simply trying to understand what the fuck is going on,” she said.
Check out “Serotonin” here and catch if i could make it go quiet April 30th!