Something I’ve found interesting about getting older is that people seem to grow up at different speeds. I know some people my age who breezed into adulthood and are already grown-ups. Things have always moved much more slower for me, and my life usually feels like a series of very cautious baby steps compared to the confident strides that other people are making.
The Facebook era makes this even more stressful by turning growing up (and life in general) into a quantifiable competition: you can now measure the quality of someone’s life by how many likes their posts get, how many photos they’re tagged in, or how many “friends” they have. If you’re lagging behind your peers, Facebook does a good job of informing you by using an algorithm to make sure all of their momentous accomplishments are shoved in your face every time you view your timeline (which only happens because you set a Facebook bookmark years ago that you’re too lazy to remove, but still accidentally click on sometimes while going about your Internet business). The grown-ups always have those big highlighted Facebook posts that take up 90% of your computer screen and get dozens of likes and comments. Meanwhile, mine is mostly some sparsely read blog links with some intermingled bad jokes.
Colleen Green’s latest album, I Want to Grow Up, as you could probably guess from the title, captures this not-quite-adult feeling I’ve had with a brutal level of accuracy. I’m not normally big on the idea of lyrics “speaking to me,” since I find it corny and self-absorbed, but in this case it was hard to ignore that every song on the album was basically my internal monologue for the last few months. On each song, Green describes these anxieties — ranging from TV addiction and a short attention span to the ultimate fear of dying alone — as if she’s constantly facepalming after just screwing something up (some sample lyrics: “I’m shitty and lame and I’m dumb and I’m a bore,” “I can’t hold a conversation,” “I’ve gotta stop doing things that are bad for me.”) It’s a familiar mindset for anyone who has been stuck in life and knows they need to do something, but isn’t sure exactly what they should do or how to do it.
All of the negativity and self-loathing would make this a hard album to listen to if Green didn’t have a gift for writing catchy, addictive pop songs. I Want to Grow Up is full of bright, grungy melodies, which along with Green’s voice provide a dissonance between the sound of the music and the dark lyrics. At least half of the songs have been stuck in my head in the last week, with the title track, “TV,” and “Things That Are Bad For Me” leading the way. But the most jolting track on the album is “Deeper Than Love,” a painful song about the fear of intimacy and the possibility of never finding the one — or a one. (It also has another lyric I relate to a lot: “I don’t wanna think about it. It’s too scary.”)
I Want to Grow Up is not a very subtle album. The lyrics are as literal as it gets, and the songs are all mostly familiar sounds to anyone who likes 90s music. I actually think this is part of why it’s good. It takes familiar structures and signifiers (slacker pop songs) and warps them with the lyrics, which have a real edge because they are so straight-forward. Ultimately, your enjoyment of the album probably hinges on those lyrics. If you get where she is coming from, are in a similar place, or have been in that place yourself, it’ll be an enjoyable album that has real emotional depth. If you’re one of those people who grew up easily, I could see her annoying you, and you would probably be better off spending your time playing croquet and drinking tea or whatever it is that real adults do.