Music critics have long blindly attacked any and all music primarily enjoyed my teenage girls. Bubblegum pop was once the main target of such critics, but now, the ascendant bedroom pop seems like it may be the latest target. It’s not attacked with the same fury that the bubblegum pop of the 2010s was, but it nevertheless is oft dismissed. But behind the understated melodies that underpin much of bedroom pop, the genres biggest stars – including Girl In Red – have long shown great talent; especially in regards to song-writing. Girl In Red, like many of bedroom pop’s breakout stars utilised the genre’s under-stated sound not out of choice, but necessity: playing with the limited resources they could access from the comforts of their bedroom. Now Girl In Red – along with other bedroom pop stars, like Beabadoobee – are taking advantage of the wider range of instrumentation and production – available to them for the first time.
It’s easy to compare Girl In Red and Beabadoobee to each other; both came to fame around the same time, both have moved past the days where acoustic finger-picked guitars dominated their sound, both released their debut albums within a year of each other and, both owe a large amount of their success to the video sharing app TikTok. Comparing both of their debut LP’s reveals each’s relative strengths and weaknesses. In comparison with Beabadoobee, and other bedroom pop artists, Girl In Red’s songwriting is superior. ‘Serotonin’ is a lyrical standout, with it’s frank exploration of intrusive thoughts as is ‘Apartment 402’; with one of the albums darkest and only genuinely jaw-dropping lines (“Black out on the floor just once more / The place I cally my home / Yeah, I could die here and nobody would know”).
The lyricism remains great across the album, with the unignorable exception of ‘You Stupid Bitch’; a sonically enjoyable, but ultimately problematic track that suffers from nice guy/girl syndrome. The track sees Girl In Red tell a friend that she’d be better of with her than her partner, but the lyrics just come of as emotionally abusive and gaslighting (“You don’t know what you deserve”, “You stupid bitch, can’t you see? The perfect one for you is me”). The track’s greatest sin however is the way it fatally undermines the heartening, self-reflective message of ‘Hornylovesickness’; where Girl In Red admits that a partner deserved more than she gave them.
Lyrics aside – which, with one startling exception, are well beyond what you’d expect from an artist as young as Girl in Red – the production and instrumentation on ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’ is, in one word, messy. The transitions between heavy, experimental tracks like ‘Body and Mind’ and sombre ballads like ‘Hornylovesickness’ is often jarring. Such is, perhaps, to be expected from an artist transitioning to a distinctly new sound for the first time. Bringing back the Beabadoobee comparison, it becomes clear where Girl In Red’s strengths and relative weaknesses are. Girl in Red’s understated, ballad-esque tracks are far better than those of Beabadoobee: Beabadoobee’s low-key ‘How Was Your Day?’ revolved around simplistic lyrics like “How was your day / Was it okay?”, while Girl In Red tracks like ‘Hornylovesickness’ are lyrically breath-taking in parts.
However, Beabadoobee was far better on her debut at creating thumping arena-rock anthems: ‘Worth It’ and ‘Care’ had amazing moshpit-ready anthemic choruses, while ‘Dye It Red’ felt positively Nirvana-esque. Meanwhile, none of the tracks on ‘If I Could Make It Go Quiet’ deliver that same sense of catharsis and raw-energy (with the possible exception of ‘Body and Mind’). Nevertheless, there’s certainly a lot to like on Girl In Red’s debut album – both for old and new fans – and it undoubtedly marks the beginning of a long and fruitful musical career.
Best Tracks: ‘Body and Mind’, ‘Serotonin’, ‘Apartment 402’, ‘Rue’
Worst Tracks: ‘You Stupid Bitch’