Out of the recent eruption of indie-pop female powerhouses like Lorde, Grimes and Purity Ring emerges Danish-born Karen Marie Ørsted, otherwise known as MØ. In the last year or so, MØ has released one full EP, Bikini Daze, but has otherwise been slowly dropping dynamite singles as well as collaborations with electro icons, including Diplo and Avicii. MØ is a self-proclaimed player in the pop world, even citing the Spice Girls as an early inspiration, who she recently nodded to with an inventive cover of Say You’ll Be There.
According to the pop princess herself, this, her first full-length album, is about “being young, confused and restless…just trying to find your own path through the jungle of the modern world.” And the album materializes as just that, exploring the speedy, aggressive ups as well as the doleful, angsty downs of becoming an adult. We already knew MØ was completely capable of producing a potent pop track, but No Mythologies To Follow proves that this girl is just as well-versed in reflecting, longing and lamenting.
The album opens with the automatically addictive Don’t Wanna Dance that consists of the sultry vocals, electro-poppy production and self-possessed feminine vibe that characterizes MØ. Don’t Wanna Dance is one of the most danceable tracks on the record, but it also acts as a powerful, assertive opener for the more dynamic variety of tracks to come. In the same upbeat vein as this first track are other previously-released singles that boast pure pop perfection, quintessential girl-power energy and perfect synth production. Though these songs are glimmering and beat-filled, each conveys its own unique undertones. Glass takes the form of a simultaneously mournful and celebratory track about time passing, with a high-stakes chorus that asks “Oh, why does everyone have to grow old?” Tracks like Maiden, on the other hand, emerge as provocative expressions of longing and ravaging desire; while Pilgrim raises the stakes in an angsty, question-filled expression of frustration and a subsequent wish for escape. Those singles together show MØ’s thematic breadth as well as her consistently authoritative voice, not to mention her flawless power to create a well-balanced pop track.
Surrounding those familiar tunes are more slowed-down, complex constructions that take the form of reflective ballads with undertones of angst and regret. In Dust is Gone, MØ croons, “Life is cruel and too short.” Slow Love not only tells the all-too-familiar story of being replaced by another girl, it succeeds in sounding exactly what that might feel like. Those, along with the darker Waste of Time, channel a Lana del Rey malaise that MØ imbues with deep disappointment and frustration. Tracks like these raise the stakes in contrast to the more light-hearted, fast-paced ones, somehow fusing ambient and day-dreamy vibes with taciturn, melancholy moods. The album’s final foray, XXX 88, a collaboration with Diplo, acts as a perfectly powerful, weighty ending.
With No Mythologies To Follow, MØ has established herself within an emerging circle of powerful pop dominatrixes but with her own distinct sound full of versatility and vitality. Not to mention that she is adorable and flawlessly Scandinavian.