Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: On Colleen Green and Growing Up

Douglas Martin and Colleen Green teach you how to grow up.
By    February 23, 2015


Douglas Martin knows what Tom Delonge saw at Area 51

In spite of the increasingly cliched Jay-Z lyric, thirty is not the new twenty. Maybe it’s just an easier thing to say when you’re pushing forty, well past that anxiety-inducing transition between young adulthood and actual adulthood. Pretty much everybody has the feeling of being trapped in quicksand as they approach this particular milestone, just ask Danny BrownWe’re afraid of not living up to our potential; we’re scared of, to quote an episode of Louie, “circling failure in a rapidly decaying orbit.” Those of us in the thick of it know: Thirty isn’t about sneaking into bars and trying to sleep with married women like we did when we were a decade younger, it’s about getting your shit together. For many of us, it’s a wasteland of missed opportunities, mind-torturing mistakes, dissolved or destroyed relationships, and the kind of depression that comes from miscarrying the goals you’ve had in place for yourself.

Colleen Green’s latest (and spoiler alert: best) album, I Want to Grow Up, was written on the cusp of the artist reaching her thirtieth birthday, and it appropriately captures all of the insecurities accompanying doing so. The album’s eponymous opener serves as a thesis statement, with Green channeling Veruca Salt while rattling off her self-perceived deficiencies in the form of a Thing I Need to Change About Myself list. Given the genre’s firm footing in juvenilia and arrested development, it takes a lot of gumption to include the lyric “I think I need a schedule” on the first track of your pop-punk album.

Green finds herself trying to cut out the vices more detrimental to her maturity (the usual: drugs, alcohol, fuckboys) over a palette of alt-rock and pop-punk, striking in its straightforwardness. The two-part “Things Are Bad for Me” first sounds like someone cheerily scolding themselves for not being better, and then solidifies into a dark, forceful song about using drugs and alcohol in order to escape deficiencies in the self, and not knowing exactly how to escape your own head.

Using the veneer of tinny, cheap disco, “Deeper Than Love” Green digs deep within herself to find why relationships just seem to crumble in her life, why she has yet to be married, and even if she’s the marrying type. It’s the kind of 3 a.m. conversation you’re having with yourself when you’re driving home from a party and it’s just you, the radio, and your thoughts of crushing loneliness.

“TV is my friend, and it has been / With me everyday, from an early age,”

Green sings on the (obviously) appropriately named “TV,” where she describes her relationship with her particular television set, but also the nervousness about going out in the world and trying to connect with people. It’s the early version of us all sinking into our cell phones and social media, trying to corral attention and trying to feel part of something bigger than yourself while burrowing yourself away from the physical world. Of course, TV was the first instance of this, picking somewhere you found to be comfortable and spending hours alone watching a screen full of these far away characters and feeling like you were taking a peek into their lives. Voyeurism has always been a part of human nature, I guess.

“Some People” has the distinction of being both one of those “why everybody else and not me” songs about love, but also a sly treatise on men who date women who are virtually interchangeable. Green goes down the list of options, dying her hair, wearing more makeup, and drinking more. “Or maybe you just want a girl who just thinks like you,” Green sings, reaching up to the highest register of her voice. “Grind My Teeth” covers ground we’ve all been down: That one ex whose general appearance in your thoughts, no matter how frivolous, leads to a minor breakdown. The one whose memory you can’t escape, no matter what you do to try. The tension in the music highlights that deflating feeling you receive when someone you loved picked somebody they liked better than you, which is one of the most heart-rending situations you could ever be a part of.

And then, there’s that moment of clarity, months and months after all of the worrying about the future and ruminating on the past. That moment where you finally figure out, “Hey, this is my life, and I might as well give it a shot.” Green reminisces about a time where she was unsure if she had what it takes to get to where she needed to be in life. But then she realized that once you let go of the pressures of being in your thirties and just be in your thirties, you realize you’re in firmer control of your life, you recognize what you want out of it and you have a better idea of what it takes to get there. “Whatever I Want,” the album’s final song is a distillation of this.


The period where you’re closing in on your thirties can be tumultuous. The uncertainty of the future is always a frightening thing to think about, let alone at a time where you feel like you’re not as far along in life as you should be. But once you cross over to that other side, you realize turning thirty is a clean slate, a blank canvas which can lead to rapid–or at least steady–progression in the areas where you feel you need improvement. You realize life is at least long enough to try to grow into the person you want to be.

I Want to Grow Up, in all its straightforwardness, skips the arty abstraction and gets to the core of what bothered Colleen Green as she reached the horizon of adulthood. It’s a massively therapeutic record, with Blink-182 song structures, neon guitar solos, and most of all, a direct communication of one person’s fears, failures, and overtures toward maturity — with all the setbacks that come with it. There are roadblocks in front of all of us, with signs on them saying the lives we want are not accessible, that we don’t have what it takes to become the people we want to be. Growing up is not just paying bills and such, it’s about getting past these gauntlets and actualizing the person you’ve always dreamed of being.

MP3: Colleen Green – “Pay Attention” (Left-Click)

The album is for sale here: Hardly Art

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