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I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! infuses girl in red's diaristic pop with explosively grimy punk


Release date: 12 April 2024
Girl in red IM DOING IT AGAIN BABY cover
11 April 2024, 09:00 Written by Emma Thimgren

Norwegian singer-songwriter Marie Ulven had long been an internet favourite for the queer community when she released her debut album If i could make it go quiet in 2021.

But the project, mainly its lead single collaboration with producer Finneas on “Serotonin”, shot her into a stardom she hadn’t experienced before. After that, depression and endless touring took its toll on the artist, and she had to postpone several shows due to voice issues. In interviews done during this time, it was clear she needed rest – a sentiment that was heard already in the lyrics of her last album.

Now, she reappears under her alias girl in red on her second album I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!, a proclamation that seems just as surprised as triumphant. “I’m back, I feel like myself/I was gone for a minute ‘cause I went to get help/It’s not like I want to die, at least not now, I love being alive/I was feeling so inadequate, never been so out of it / Didn’t think I’d make it this far” she divulges on the stripped back introductory track “I’m Back”.

On the title track “DOING IT AGAIN BABY” girl in red is ready to turn the leaf to a far more elated outlook. The chaotic song utilizes the grimy aesthetics of pop-punk while centring the catchy lyrics, letting the comparatively laid-back melodies lead the way. Production-wise this is the most experimental we have heard from her, constantly playing with dynamics. To finish off the song she recruits a furious banjo, and she sings “I'm loving this new self-esteem / Like the one I had at seventeen”.

Getting out of her head, Ulven seems ready to graduate from her introspective moodiness – and hits the mark effortlessly. This sound is more akin to how she comes across live. It’s evident that the process of making the album has been a cathartic and joyous experience. Matias Téllez, who also produced the majority of her debut album, returns as producer and even though the distortion sometimes becomes overpowering, the soundscapes are far more structured.

“Too Much”, a sped-up version of her signature atmospheric bedroom pop, then offers a welcome breather. Here, Ulven grapples with being told she’s too much when excited. “Phantom Pain” continues in the same vein, as she sings about mourning a relationship that never was. In comparison with the face punch of a start, this bland track is not much more than an interlude. This is nothing we haven’t already heard from her before.

“You Need Me Now?” which fittingly features Sabrina Carpenter is another of the album’s absolute peaks. It once again picks up the tempo, but unfortunately, Carpenter is confined to a single verse tucked away at the end.

Even though their mellow nature, the next couple of tracks “A Night To Remember” and “Pick Me”, never loses the classic girl in red propulsive, pulsating beat. But despite being dynamic tracks, the constant switch between the highly energetic mode and its introspective counterpart doesn’t feel motivated. Then, once again, the album switches style.

“Ugly Side” stands out with its lusciously groovy beat, a feeling that is undermined by it being placed so late on the record. The same goes for the catchy “New Love”. Suddenly, “★★★★★” finishes the project in a very mismatched way.

The sprightly injection that is I'M DOING IT AGAIN BABY! is undoubtedly refreshing, both for girl in red’s music catalogue and the music industry’s stagnant fixation on pop-punk. However, the constant zigzag between tempos and moods is tiring. The album is a true testament to her strengths as a lyricist and melodic writer but should have been allowed to be as chaotic as it first seemed to promise.

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