Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.
The opening line of Colleen Green’s latest album goes, “I want, I want to grow up, oh yeah” is certainly not the most original line ever committed to tape, but it’s does go against one of rock’n’roll’s oldest adages, “I hope I die before I get old.” Growing up and growing old are often seen as the scourge of creativity and spirit, but in reality an awful lot of people go through the whole growing up thing and find they actually prefer life at the end of it, not that growing up ever ends of course!
As John Lennon put, in the now rather tragically ironic, Grow Old With Me, “grow old with me, the best is yet to be” and many artists have echoed his sentiments; life changes and evolves, but if the best isn’t still to come, then what use is a future anyway. Jarvis Cocker has always been a man who looks forward, on the omnipresent Disco 2000 he envisaged a future when, “we’re all fully grown” while on Help The Aged, he was even imploring the youth of today to, “help the aged, don’t just put them in a home, can’t have much in their all on their own.”
It’s not just men of course who think about ageing and dream of a different future; on Garbage’s excellent When I Grow Up, Shirley Manson sang of how, “when I grow up I’ll turn the tables” whilst on Better Version Of Me, Fiona Apple sang, “oh mister wait until you see, what I’m gonna be.”
Our favourite song about growing up though, well it has to be Mr Tom Waits, nobody has quite mastered refusing to get old quite like Tom, he was 43 when he sang:
“I don’t wanna have to shout it out
I don’t want my hair to fall out
I don’t wanna be filled with doubt
I don’t wanna be a good boy scout
I don’t wanna have to learn to count
I don’t wanna have the biggest amount
I don’t wanna grow up”
We guess not everyone is quite so sure that growing old is all it’s cracked up to be!
Thirty year old Colleen Green is, as you could probably guess a solo artist, she recorded her latest album alongside Jake Orrall of JEFF the Brotherhood and Casey Weissbuch of Diarrhea Planet – the latter taking his place behind the drums in her current live set-up as well.
The Line Of Best Fit rather brilliantly described Colleen as, “a one-woman Bikini Kill/Garbage cross-breed”. That said there’s probably more variety than that would suggest from the Weezer recalling pop-punk of Things That Are Bad For Me (Part 1), to the California Sunshine-Pop of Wild One; with shades of Best Coast, the Breeders inspired grunge of I Want To Grow Up and even dance floor electronics, via the excellent Deeper Than Love, which has shades of a sadder Le Tigre or Fischerspooner.
Colleen is from Los Angeles. The second biggest city in the United States, cleverly located on a massive and very active tectonic fault line. LA is home to people from more than 140 countries speaking 224 different identified languages, which might explain just how varied and wonderful their musical history is. The jazz of Charles Mingus and Buddy Collette, rock bands from Buffalo Springfield to Guns’n’Roses, metal from Slayer and Tool, rap from Dr Dre and 2Pac, and then there’s Beck who is pretty much a genre in his own right.
Colleen started recording music back in 2010, following a few singles on a variety of small labels she signed to Hardly Art Records. She released the “Green One” EP back in 2011, before putting out her debut album for the label Sock It To Me at the start of 2013. Her second album, I Want To Grow Up, came out again via Hardly Art in February this year.
There’s something delightfully retro to Colleen’s sound, all dirgy gritty guitars, simplistic metronomic drums and lyrics about growing up and discovering what life has to offer. That said there’s enough variety and nuance to lift this way beyond a grunge meets punk-pop parody.
TV may lyrically bring to mind Jimmy Eat World, being an ode to the company of the idiot box, but it’s delivered with a thrash of drums and walls of scuzzy guitars The Pixies would be proud off, whilst the jump up to the high note in the chorus does bring to mind emo-heroes Saves The Day.
Grind My Teeth is the more serious side of ska-punk, Pay Attention has shades of Nine Black Alps or Weezer whilst Some People is a gorgeous, nostalgic slab of indie-Pop, like Camera Obscura’s Californian cousin, it’s littered with heartbreaking lyrics such as, “could there really be someone out there who’s perfect for me? Oh some days it’s hard to believe.” Perhaps the best is saved to last, the laid-back, lightly electronic Whatever I Want, is the joyous conclusion to an album of angst, a moment as she joyously revels in her new found freedom noting, “the world I live in is a design of my own.”
Whilst unquestionably the bright poppy moments are beautifully delivered, it’s when the album steps into the shadows that it becomes even more thrilling. The dirgy, Things That Are Bad For Me (Part 2) is a tense and claustrophobic number, Colleen singing, “I wanna do drugs right now, I wanna get fucked up, I don’t care how” a moody brooding track, it even has hints of Nine Inch Nails in the heavy scuzz of guitars. Probably the albums stand out track, Deeper Than Love, is unquestionably its biggest departure, low buzzing electronics, synthetic drums and vocals processed to a robotic, emotionless delivery that recalls the cold-electronica of Liverpool’s Ladytron, lyrically it’s equally dark, from the opening line, “someday I hope for a lover to kill me, it’s the closest I can hope to get to anybody, it’s the closest I can come to being really free” we’re in maudlin territory already, but as it unravels it becomes clear it’s more a track about fear of commitment and intimacy, “is there anything stronger than biology? Is love being ruined by technology? Nowadays commitment seems like a burden to carry” and latterly, “the closest to true love I ever came, was with someone I kept many miles away, cos I’m wary of eliminating distance, this could surely be the death of any romance.” The whole track is as beautifully delivered as it is miserable, the gently meandering guitar solo towards the end, the perfectly judged processed beats and in particular the beautifully treated vocals, occasionally they seem to crackle with a touch of feedback that renders them almost entirely inhuman, it’s rather brilliant!
“I’m shitty and I’m lame and I’m dumb and I’m a bore and once you get to know me you won’t love anymore” her words not ours and suffice to say we don’t agree at all!
I Want To Grow Up is out now on Hardly Art Records. Colleen Green has just finished a European tour, but returns to the UK for a set at Indietracks Festival.