New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Review: girl in red’s ‘I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!’ freshly approaches artistic development

In dropping an album both introspective and divergent from her traditional sound, the Norwegian artist paints a journey of self-discovery that cements her creative voice.
“I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” is the sophomore album of singer-songwriter girl in red. (Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment)

Do you listen to girl in red? The recent release of her second studio album serves as a prime incentive to do so and acquaint yourself with the artist. Singer-songwriter Marie Ulven Ringheim, better known as girl in red, released “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” on April 12. While brief — a collection of 10 songs lasting just short of a half hour — she manages to illustrate a journey of mature love and self-image. Ulven’s lyrics stay true to her artistic voice and further establish herself as a skilled songwriter and notable figure within queer culture.

The titular track “DOING IT AGAIN BABY,” which Ulven noted in a March TikTok was “the most playful and fun track” she had made to date, captures listeners with its catchy melodic progression. The verses are sly and the bridge picks up in cadence, resulting in an energized, percussive song set to an acoustic track featuring a banjo. The track brilliantly acts as exposition, with Ulven claiming “I’m loving this new self-esteem / Like the one I had at seventeen.” Having released her first hit “i wanna be your girlfriend” to SoundCloud at age 17, Ulven ushers in a new era of her music with an air of confidence, bolstered by the eight years of experience under her belt.

Ulven’s work was previously defined by a bedroom-pop ambience,and her lyrics were highlighted by self-taught piano and guitar. Fans may be disappointed by the departure of that bedroom-pop production in this album, as it feels more streamlined and crisp in tone as a whole. The softer, textured feel of her 2021 album “if i could make it go quiet” and earlier singles is not lost entirely. For example, “Phantom Pain,” while honoring the album’s new sound through a dramatic orchestral opening, grounds itself in Ulven’s familiar hazy acoustics. It depicts a heartbreak made painful by a lack of time and proximity. Ulven says, “I adore every part of your face / I know this might be extreme / I truly believe we’re meant to be.” The chorus showcases Ulven’s incredible vocals, and her tone is strong, raspy and pleading, with a cool use of post-production distortion at the song’s end.

While often sonically different, Ulven’s music is anchored in themes of self-awareness and romance that connect with her past work. “I’m Back” takes on the same personal, introspective focus that “if i could make it go quiet” honed in on, celebrating life’s little victories against mounting feelings of inadequacy and pessimism.

Relationship dynamics are also portrayed with scathing scrutiny across the album. She collaborates with Sabrina Carpenter on “You Need Me Now?,” airing frustrations with an ambivalent, scheming ex-lover. It’s bassy and powerful in its anger, with Ulven noting “I was secondary to everything / I’ve never been so insignificant / You’re stripped of love and it’s evident.” Carpenter’s feature and recorded banter with Ulven prove to be a humorous and fresh take on musical collaboration. 

While many of the album’s strongest songs depict frustration, not all are founded in a downcast perspective. In “A Night to Remember,” Ulven reflects on the night she met her girlfriend. Walking listeners through drug-driven parties and the haze of late-night bars, the song explores the miracle of chance. Ulven notes that “I don’t believe things are meant to be / But now it doesn’t apply to me / ‘Cause you and I / Are like stars aligned.” Perhaps the most poignant track on the album, it teases a sense of contentment that transcends the rather consistent romantic angst of Ulven’s other work. Rather than pining or basking in regret, Ulven contentedly reflects on her current love through earnest storytelling.

It’s difficult for Ulven’s music not to feel intensely personal. She spins second-person narratives in her songs where she sings to a specific someone, whether they be many different people or a single subject — addressed as “you” — across her discography. This near-interactive approach may explain the evocative quality of her work, which by nature involves and invests the listener.

The album’s final song, “★★★★★ (Five Stars),” explores Ulven’s doubts around the next phase of her artistry, which is superseded by her faith in the album. She muses, “Six out of six, is it a miss?” 

The answer is a resounding no — the 10-track album proves to be a hit, with her candid lyricism serving to ground a continuously evolving sound. Ulven consistently spins tales of love and longing, both internally and externally. With “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!,” it’s safe to say that girl in red has indeed done it again.

Contact Eleanor Jacobs at [email protected].

Leave a comment

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *