girl in red is doing it again

Marie Ulven Ringheim, also known by her pop project and stage name, girl in red, released her sophomore album, titled “I’M DOING IT AGAIN BABY!” on April 12, 2024. With its 10 tracks, the album chronicles the ordinary mishaps of the singer’s life in a fusion of laid-back alt-pop and rock melodies. 

Known for her mellow bedroom pop songs on queer love and mental health, the 25-year-old Norwegian singer-songwriter and producer has garnered a dedicated fanbase and solidified herself as one of the most notable young voices within the queer music community after singles like “we fell in love in october” and “i wanna be your girlfriend” went viral on social media in 2020. With this, she became a symbol of queer identification on TikTok with users adopting the phrase, “Do you listen to girl in red” as a discreet way to ask if someone is gay or a lesbian. 

Since then, her 2021 debut album, “if i could make it go quiet” received critical acclaim and commercial success. This was followed by a sold-out world tour and an opportunity to perform as an opening act for multiple shows of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour last year. 

In a podcast interview, she described this new album as “super confident, super playful, fun and humorous,” with its sad songs coming from a place of “sincerity.” The confident energy of the album title is channeled in the first two tracks. “I’m Back” details her return — both personally and professionally — with relatable lyrics about feeling at peace with oneself again. Amidst the soft piano beats, she tells us, “I’m back, I feel like myself / I was gone for a minute ’cause I went to get help.” 

Though, where the first track gives self-assurance, the title track, “DOING IT AGAIN BABY” features a more sped-up experimental punk that emulates confidence, placing the singer at the public forefront as she adopts over-the-top personas. She sings, “Got those Japanese denim and loafers on my feet / Looking like a rockstar from the s-s-seventies.” This physical embodiment has her thinking, “I’m loving this new self-esteem / Like the one I had at seventeen.” The second half of the song finishes with a fast banjo that fits the thrilling new pride. 

“You Need Me Now” is the fifth and only feature track with pop singer Sabrina Carpenter as a collaboration. It’s a classic breakup song reminiscent of Olivia Rodrigo’s “good 4 u” as its emotions of rage fit well with its upbeat rock tunes. She begins, “I wanna say all bad things end / But right now, I’m not convinced.” Here, the aftermath of the singer’s failed relationship manifests into frustration because it seems like it hasn’t failed to end. She continues, “Yeah, you’re swinging right back like a pendulum, babe.” This frustration is elevated in a fast-paced chorus: “Don’t tell me you need me now / You got your feelings back.” Sabrina is then introduced in a spoken interlude. With the rhythm of the song subdued, Sabrina’s verse in the bridge evokes a playful rebuttal. “I’ll be somewhere by myself in Hawaii / Doin’ all the things we always wanted.” 

“Pick Me” is an overtly queer song about trying to win a girl over. Its incorporation of piano drops in the beginning with softer vocals creates sympathy for our singer: “Pick me over him /Let the loser win.” The tempo eventually builds up more loudly towards the end to convey frustration and hopelessness as the singer loses grip of the female muse as she leaves with the man instead.

Another song that brings attention to the singer’s inner struggles is “Ugly Side.” It’s snarky and self-questioning. “I was born with a case / Of imperfections and a whole lot of mental disarray,” she tells us. Again, the diaristic style of her lyrics that recounts common teenage insecurities makes her music relatable and appealing to young adolescents. 

One valid criticism of the album is the disordered placement of the songs that disrupts the overall flow. This is audibly noticeable from the get-go as the album is constantly switching between energetic tracks and the more somber, introspective ones. The more upbeat tracks like “New Love” and “DOING IT AGAIN BABY” could’ve been placed earlier to better complement the bold title. If you enjoy listening to albums in chronological order, this placement could make the listening experience exhausting or unsatisfying. Overall, girl in red’s musical beginnings having started in the private space of her bedroom have allowed her to pour honesty and intimacy into her lyrics, making her appealing and relatable to her young audience. 

Verdict: Although the song order was a bit out of place, girl in red picks off from where she left off, writing from a place of personal struggles and ideals that her fans are yearning to hear again.

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