Colleen Green wants to grow up
Matthew Munhall | Wednesday, February 25, 2015
“I gotta stop doing things that are bad for me / I’m thinking maybe I could change my body’s destiny,” Colleen Green croons optimistically on the catchy chorus of “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I).” The L.A.-based DIY rocker exhibits an urgency to change her self-destructive behaviors, whether that means leaving an enabling boyfriend or giving up weed. Yet the darker Part II finds her singing, “I want to do drugs right now / I want to get f**ked up, I don’t care how.”
Green explores this tension between the desire to grow up and the overwhelming urge to give in to an endless adolescence on the appropriately-titled “I Want to Grow Up,” her third full-length album. The L.A.-based DIY rocker with a proclivity for weed (her Twitter handle is @colleengreen420) makes music that could soundtrack an episode of “Broad City.” Like Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer’s fictional versions of themselves, Green explores the anxiety that comes from being a directionless twentysomething, all the while shrouded in a thick cloud of pot smoke.
“Sock It to Me,” Green’s first LP, released in 2013, on Sub Pop-imprint Hardly Art, paired power chords with girl-group vocals and lo-fi drum machine loops. She channeled the influence of self-professed heroes Blink-182 and the Descendents into melodic pop punk songs recorded in her bedroom.
“I Want to Grow Up” doesn’t depart from that formula, but instead offers a more polished version of Green’s sound. For the recording of the album, she decamped to Sputnik Sound studios in Nashville, Tennessee, for 10 days. There, Green recorded in a studio for the first time, collaborating with JEFF the Brotherhood’s Jake Orrall and Diarrhea Planet’s Casey Weissbuch. The result is an album that is decidedly less lo-fi than her earlier work but still retains her ear for hooks.
Green’s songwriting chops have matured as well. The strength of Green’s lyrics on this album lies in her ability to find depth in seemingly mundane topics. Nowhere is this more apparent than on first single “TV,” which is, on the surface, a power-pop ode to her best friend: her television set. Still, the track is more than just a celebration of her love of watching episodes of “Jeopardy!” and “Law and Order: SVU.” In Green’s world, staying indoors watching television serves as an alternative to the anxiety that comes from interacting with other human beings. “I don’t have to worry about a conversation / And I don’t have to worry about being fun,” she confesses.
The twentysomething existential angst reaches its peak on “Deeper Love,” a moody six-minute dirge that serves as the album’s centerpiece. On it, she begs her boyfriend to kill her, singing that it’s “the closest I can hope to get to anybody.” The track pushes the alienation she expressed on “TV” to its furthest limit, as she vocalizes her own self-loathing and fear of intimacy. Over a chugging bassline, she rattles off reasons to remain distant: “I’m s****y and I’m lame and I’m dumb and I’m a bore/and once you get to know me you won’t love me anymore.”
Green arrives a realization on the atmospheric closer “Whatever I Want.” “Lately I’ve become aware / That I can do whatever I want,” she sings over spaced-out synths. At first, Green sounds almost defeated by this newfound awareness. Then, she comes to the conclusion that “the world I live in’s a design of my own.” Maturity means taking responsibility for your own actions. By album’s end, Green is well on her way, proving that wanting to grow up — in all its hooky power-pop glory — is maybe worth it after all.
If you like: Blink-182, The Descendents, Weezer
Tracks: “TV,” “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I),” “Deeper Love”