M - When I Was Young (Album Review)

Thursday, 02 November 2017 Written by Jennifer Geddes

MØ’s ear for catchy hooks and earnest lyrics has made her a favourite collaborator among mainstream and alternative producers, but that has in turn left her caught between two worlds. That split is showcased on her surprise EP, ‘When I Was Young’.

Lean On, her hit song with Major Lazer and DJ Snake, changed everything for MØ. It followed the success of her debut album, ‘No Mythologies to Follow’, in her native Denmark, and brought her to the attention of an international audience.

Since then there have been further collaborations with Diplo, including Cold Water with Justin Bieber, plus Don’t Leave with Snakehips, 3am (Pull Up) alongside Charli XCX, a spot on on Cashmere Cat’s 9 (After Coachella) and her own single Nights with You, which bore the fingerprints of SOPHIE, Benny Blanco, Cashmere Cat and Ryan Tedder.

In 2016 a brace of singles - Final Song and Drum - suggested that album two was imminent, but it failed to materialise. The Lean On effect was almost certainly a factor, but a further year on ‘When I Was Young’ hardly gives a clue as to what that sophomore release will sound like. This is more a collection of songs - written over several years - than a ‘project’.

The title track sits best with her mainstream persona and seems to be an attempt to recreate the success of Lean On with its drop chorus, this time taking inspiration from electro swing rather than Bollywood. It also fits in well with the current pop trend for nostalgia as MØ sings: “When I was young, oh / And the holidays went on and on.”

The rest of the EP falls more in line with her past solo releases, featuring no big drops or shiny pop-house production. Roots feels like an electronic fugue similar to the inspiration behind Halsey’s ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom’. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The track dates back to the time of the first album, and is about anxiety at change: “I've slaughtered all them swines / I left it burnin'/ Gone to New York,” she sings.

Run Away was written back in 2015 for a short film made by MØ’s friend about their childhood. As such, the lyrics focus on daydreaming about escaping the suburbs, soundtracked by a simple lilting electric guitar melody which gives it a ‘50s feel.

It’s a chance for her to show off her vocals with an emotive performance and the result is captivating, though it’s hard to get away from the Lana Del Rey comparisons. ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ also featured a couple of similar tracks and, while they were great songs, they felt out of place within the synth-pop style of the rest of the album.

That's a recurring theme, it appears, as Turn My Heart To Stone features 808 beats and pulsing synths with with hip hop swagger, while Bb feels more like her work with SOPHIE. As does Linking With You, which ramps up the bubblegum pop to Charli XCX levels with the playful refrain “I can’t come out to play, I’ll be on my phone all day”. It’s the only track that gets near the quality of Final Song or Nights With You, with its mixture of pop hooks and industrial production.

MØ’s at her best when when she treads the line between mainstream and alternative, as showcased on songs like Linking With You. It would be a shame if When I Was Young, rather than that track, signalled the direction her music is going, but for now she seems to be keeping that information close to her chest. Until then it’s just nice to be reminded of her talent.

MØ Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon March 26 2018 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Tue March 27 2018 - BELFAST Mandela Hall
Wed March 28 2018 - MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Fri March 30 2018 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Sat March 31 2018 - GLASGOW O2 ABC
Wed April 04 2018 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton
Thu April 05 2018 - NORWICH Norwich Nick Rayns LCR UEA
Sat April 07 2018 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol

Click here to compare & buy MO Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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