Colleen Green: Cool (Hardly Art) - review | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 27th, 2021  

Colleen Green

Cool

Hardly Art

Sep 27, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Colleen Green is endlessly cool, as she has proven over three albums, all adorned with her ever-present sunglasses and references to old Descendants records. 2015’s I Want to Grow Up, her last record of punk-tinged guitar pop, set expectations high for her follow-up, expectations that Green has been all too happy to put aside. Apart from 2019’s full-length cover of Blink 182’s Dude Ranch, Green has been largely quiet in the intervening six years. Fortunately, that time away pays off. The Colleen Green we find on Cool feels more self-assured than the existential quandaries found on I Want to Grow Up, with the new record finding her content, comfortable, and一as always一cool.

Opener “Somebody Else” points to the record’s laid-back slacker vibe, opening the album on twinkling college rock guitar lines, a rollicking bassline, and easygoing talk-singing. From the opening moments, Green rides the line between breezy and confident, confronting a one-sided relationship on the opener before diving into welcome absurdism with the razor-sharp hooks of “I Wanna Be a Dog.” Green imagines abandoning her own neuroses for the carefree good life of quite literally becoming a dog, presumably complete with all of the accompanying head pats and “good girls.” That same sunny carefree energy reappears later in the tracklist with “It’s Nice to Be Nice,” accompanied by both ear-candy harmonies and a blaring guitar solo. Meanwhile, the hooks and upbeat instrumentation are met with an equally positive message, encapsulated in the song’s title.

While the record’s singles trade in Green’s well-established penchant for catchy melodies, she also branches further away from her punk roots on the rest of the album. The charming gauzy fuzz guitars of I Want to Grow Up are largely traded in for laid-back, languid indie rock. This can result in the album dragging a bit, as with the downtempo ballad “I Believe In Love.” Though the leisurely pace at times lacks the distinctive charm of Green’s best music, her ambling and uninhibited approach also lets Green explore new subtleties.

Some of the record’s best lyrical moments come when its sunny disposition breaks and offers a peek behind Green’s effortless cool, showing an older and perhaps darker side to Green. “How Much Should You Love Your Husband?” sees Green explore marriage, imagining the stress and annoyance of being with a comedian or a lawyer as well as the constant effort involved in making love work. Meanwhile, the bass grooves, layered harmonies, and distorted guitar soloing of “You Don’t Exist” accompany a look into anonymity in our always-online world一“If I had a million followers/Then maybe they would say, ‘CG so popular’/The more and more I see the more I call bullshit/You know that nothing matters when you don’t exist.”

But, even in the album’s more ponderous emotional beats, Green sounds unhurried and collected, giving each plenty of space to breathe. She explores unexpected backroads, as with the hypnotic smoldering slow-burn of “Highway” or the spacious synths and motorik rhythms of “Natural Chorus.” Both the latter track and “You Don’t Exist” stay locked into their opening grooves for nearly two minutes before Green’s vocals even enter. Together, all of the twisting song structures, whisper-rapped vocals, and surprisingly sticky melodies show a carefully considered songwriter behind the record’s effortless veneer.

After six years away Green’s latest effort is as sharp, witty, and fun as ever. She seems easygoing and comfortable, maybe even more outwardly sophisticated as her punk influences take more of a backseat. The resulting record shows a different side to Green, one that may not appeal to everybody. But she delivers more than enough sunny guitar pop earworms to satisfy those who are looking for her well-honed ear for hooks, all while breaking into some new territory. Green has always been content to follow her own path, and she once again does so in style on Cool. (www.colleengreen.bandcamp.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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