I Want to Grow Up
February 24, 2015
I’ll admit, I came into this album with the wrong expectations. Colleen Green, a favorite, had changed her formula. Armed with only an electric guitar and drum machine, Green produced lo-fi, love-ridden songs with a stoner charm. She was a one-woman girl group, even doing her own backing vocals. The effect was a great, singular take on 60’s pop and 90’s punk music. It was her own shtick, and even better, she was doing it alone. That’s why I was upset to hear that her new album, I Want to Grow Up, was recorded as a three-piece band (no drum machine!). Would I still like her when she sounded like everyone else?
The easy answer is yes. Despite my reservations, I Want to Grow Up holds true to Green’s overall sound. Yes, the drums are real, and there are more guitar solos, but the music is essentially the same. If anything, she’s leaning closer to those 90’s punk influences, capturing a fuller sound reminiscent of bands like Weezer and Blink-182.
Lyrically, Green is also shifting away from her 60’s influences. There are a couple of songs that deal with love, but none of the heartsick, head-swimming variety. Instead, Colleen has, well, Grown Up. The newly-turned 30-year old is concerned with bigger topics like facing adulthood. That, and not the music, is the key shift here. You can hear it on “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I)”. Taking aim at bad vices, Green sings “The first thing I’ll do / Is get away and stay from you”. Much of the album is devoted to becoming a better person. As Green says in the title, track, “I want to be bold / I want to grow up”.
That isn’t to say Green is over her past vices. Far from it. She has a clear idea of getting better and growing up, but that doesn’t mean she’s there yet. The headstrong “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part I)” is a catchy burst of assertiveness, led by dueling guitar solos. “Things That Are Bad for Me (Part II)”, on the other hand, finds Green second-guessing those decisions, singing behind gloomy power chords. It’s a perfect summation of the push and pull she finds herself in. Adulthood is clearly winning the battle, but she’s still in the tug of war stage.
Thankfully, Green does take breaks from the battle. As she sings in “Grind My Teeth”: “Everything is a stressor”. That’s why she needs the occasional song like “TV”, a simple declaration of love for something that’s always been there for her. Sometimes she just needs to get away and watch some TV, you know? I had a similar feeling while listening to this album. I Want to Grow Up is a clear step in the right direction. It’s a solid album. Green’s maturing in both sound and sentiment, and I admire her for that. But after a few listens, I found myself wanting my version of that TV – those simpler, boy-crazy older songs of hers. And I miss that drum machine! That’s probably the biggest sign yet that I also need to grow up.