MØ expands distinctive sound in “When I Was Young”

“When I Was Young” utilizes distinct sounds, ranging from dance pop to slow and emotional. This album marks a turn in the star’s career, as she steers in a new and exciting stylistic direction. / Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

MØ first came into my life in late 2014 as a result for the Google search “music like Lorde.” The magic of Lorde’s “Pure Heroine” had not yet worn off, and I was grasping for more of the music as clean and ethereal yet grounded in my tastes. Nearly every song on that album had drawn me in with its somber melodies and dark harmonies. As a result, I was yearning for more original works so that I didn’t wear out the sound by listening to the same songs over and over. Through these searches I found multitudes of artists that were great in their own right but didn’t have the spark that I was looking for—until I found the song “XXX 88,” a collaboration between MØ and Diplo.

“XXX 88” is a song that aspires to be a summer anthem, originally released on MØ’s 2013 “Bikini Daze EP” along with three other songs, each bearing distinct characteristics all reminiscent of the sound of MØ. “XXX 88” and “Dark Night” offer crisp vocals that seem to embed themselves into whichever situation you, as the listener, are experiencing. “Freedom #1” and “Never Wanna Know” have the same effect, yet with a different atmospheric quality. After listening to “Bikini Daze” for a few days, which became a life soundtrack of sorts, I completely abandoned my Lorde for a new adventure: “No Mythologies to Follow.”

MØ’s masterpiece, the LP “No Mythologies to Follow,” followed the release of “Bikini Daze” in 2014. Featuring the aforementioned “Never Wanna Know,” the album reaches into the deepest depths of the heart and pulls out feelings, from loneliness to disdain to nostalgia for something you never knew you could be nostalgic for. With upbeat songs like “Glass” and “Don’t Wanna Dance,” the listener becomes immersed in the soul of the artist and experiences the effect of the lyricism and full extent of vocals in action. “Waste of Time,” with its guitar and vocals seamlessly working together, provides a vignette of a person in angst. Most songs have a supplementary stripped-down version available (not all on the LP) that can be taken in many different directions—some with harmonies not featured in the original tracks and some that turn heavier songs, such as “Fire Rides,” into relaxing melodies. Soon, MØ became so rooted in my heart that the day I saw the entrancing montage of “New Year’s Eve” my eyes were glued to my screen in tears.

MØ’s diverse styles throughout the years range from songs on her earliest EPs such as “YA” and “The Night Wears My Eye” to her punk band “MOR” and her collaboration with the “trip-hop” band “We All Came to Kill.” Few of these were formally released beyond Soundcloud, MySpace or a link on a Facebook page, but in each and every one of them, no matter how masked by style, you can hear a distinctive MØ sound.

MØ’s newest release, the surprise EP “When I Was Young,” serves up a different take on the rising star’s career. In her typical fashion, each song offers a distinct sound, ranging from dance pop to slow and emotional. Two tracks in particular, “Roots” and “Run Away,” stand out. “Run Away” has a hopeful sound and emotional conclusion, while “Roots” delivers a somber interpersonal question of a struggling adult. It sounds as if it would fit in directly with “No Mythologies to Follow,” which greatly juxtaposes with the other content of the EP. The other tracks, such as “Linking with You,” which is my least favorite song on the EP, feature her dance-pop style that is a relatively new development, seemingly influenced by her many 2015 and beyond collaborations.

Personally, I prefer the music she has released as a solo artist over material she has been featured in, such as Justin Bieber’s “Cold Water” or Major Lazer’s “Lean On.” The latter, which contributed majorly to her fame, seemed to be a large coup for Major Lazer while it mostly left MØ, the vocalist, in the shadows. For example, the March 2015 song’s rise in popularity was fueled by social media interaction and publicization of MØ’s dancing. A friend of mine, though he knew how much I loved MØ, posted a photo of her dancing and tagged her as Major Lazer, right in the face—without even know- ing that she was featured in the song.

“Lean On” sparked a trend of songs that do not represent MØ to the fullest. One of the first was “Kamikaze,” which is not the worst, but it leaves a lot to be desired. The electronic sound overtook her unique vocals, and the lyrics seemed to not be as well thought out or have as much meaning as her earlier music. A few more songs came out, each of varying quality in my eyes. “Final Song,” for example, offers a magical opening and conclusion with a beautifully produced music video. “Drum,” on the other hand, has to be one of my least favorite songs that I have ever heard. It is boring, stale and repetitive, combining all of the worst traits of her electronic dance pop music and brings in little to no originality and or vocals. Though that was the trough, “Cold Water,” by Justin Bieber featuring MØ is not much better, as it has been overplayed and is a mark of commercialization.

Overall, I am very pleased with MØ’s new EP and the stylistic direction it takes her in. I would be very surprised if anything ever measured up to “No Mythologies to Follow,” so, for a recent release, it defiantly satiates my appetite for anything that I consider “good MØ.” I was so happy about this release, in fact, that when her joint tour with Cashmere Cat’s tickets went on sale, I bought tickets for the Jan. 25 show in Brooklyn immediately after they came out. Though MØ has changed epically throughout the years, I have no doubt that, at the core, her treasure trove of music will never cease to amaze me and link with wherever I am in life.

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