Text: Paul van der Zalm

There is no shortage of young singers who struggle with their demons and find an outlet in music. On the other hand, there’s a large group of fans who are ready to embrace these artists because they know how to express their struggles so well. We could probably discuss one of these releases every week on the website of CHAOS, but we wisely don’t. It’s different when, as a teenager from Oslo, Norway, you already ended up in The New York Times’ Top 10 Tracks of the Year in 2018 with your debut single ‘I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend’ and you’re named one of the talents for 2021 by the BBC and other authoritative media. The expectations for the debut album of Marie Ulven (Ringheim) are then naturally high and the question is whether she can live up to those expectations.

If i could make it go quiet… is off to a good start with the powerful opening track ‘Serotonin’ with heavy lyrics that, according to the accompanying information, can be traced back to a traumatic motorbike accident her father had when she was young. Musically, it is a colourful mix of styles; she seems to be encouraged by FINNEAS, Billie Eilish’s brother, who co-produced this song. Surprising is the second song: for a moment you think you hear the same song in a different version. Even more than the first song, this one changes colour completely a couple of times. For the rest, it is mainly an angry song and the title “Did You Come?” leaves nothing to guess.

Although Ulven recorded the rest of the album in Bergen, Norway, together with musician-producer Matias Tellez, who is well known there, the Billie Eilish association comes back in ‘Body And Mind’. Angry again is the song ‘You Stupid Bitch’ (Can’t you see the perfect one for you is me). This Icona Pop-like track seems to deal with hormones rather than demons. The somewhat clichéd ‘Midnight Love’ or ‘I Call You Mine’, which starts with a slow disco-beat, also point in that direction, as does the casually sung broken-hearted ‘.’. And when you’re waiting at a New York airport for your flight to take off, the lyrics of the melancholic ‘hornylovesickmess’ might just spring to mind, even though it could just as easily happen during one of the many car rides between Oslo and Bergen, with plenty of time for reflection. Don’t let the deceptively optimistic sounding intro put you on the wrong track. ‘Apartment 402’ seems at first to be the most depressing track on the album, but fortunately it also offers room for hope. Musically, it could even be cast in a hip dance mix. 

All songs on the album are around three minutes long, except for the closing track. This short instrumental track on electric piano forms the second part of the album title: “…it would feel like this”.


Photo credit: Jonathan Kise