MØ – No Mythologies To Follow
by Matthew Graham
No Mythologies To Follow is an exceptionally confident debut album from Danish songstress MØ, and deservedly so. It is incredibly well executed and MØ’s gorgeously dark vocals drip through every track, adding a raw emotional quality that is often hard to come by in the electronica-pop scene. Her blend of swirling synths, fragmented drum-machine beats and stomping hooks result in a defiant dance-pop war cry. The album’s sound has, rather paradoxically, both youthful and mature qualities which bounce off each other throughout. The refrain from Glass, “Oh why does everyone have to grow old?”, seems like a fitting epitome for the collection as a whole. What’s more, this sound remains consistent for the duration of the album without stagnating; an impressive achievement across the 20-track deluxe edition. No Mythologies To Follow is solidly crafted and the songs feel both lyrically and musically well developed. There isn’t the ‘junk-food’ queasiness from the over-saturation of the same baseline that many of the club-ready dance albums have.
Vocally, MØ resonates with the likes of Lykke Li, having that same ability to swoop between lofty high notes and earthy lows. But MØ’s vibe is far more rebellious and cool with a hip-hop bounce similar to Lana Del Rey. However, she does occasionally swing into a more retro sounding soul singer with tracks like Never Wanna Know. No Mythologies To Follow feels like an explosive expression of youth culture, defying the pressures of love, relationships and sexual desire in a dark, dramatic style.
Fire Rides provides a luxurious opening and MØ’s sultry verses play over undulating synths that escalate into a rapturous dancehall flecked chorus. In a similar vein, lead single Maiden’s chilled guitars and plodding synths create a surprisingly laidback atmosphere. Never Wanna Know is perhaps the only track which lets the album down as it moves towards a more retro soul sound. To me, it felt a little out of place with its tolling bells and heartfelt vocals, especially amongst the rebellious presence MØ establishes on the rest of the album. That’s not to say it isn’t a good song; indeed it shows her to be vocally comfortable in entering the realms of the ballad, but in many ways I felt it was good to get it out of the way early on.
The album’s midpoint is where No Mythologies To Follow really comes into its full force. Pilgrim’s infectious brass hooks and Don’t Wanna Dance’s stomping pop audio are prime examples of where MØ shows her ability to craft a great song while bounding from the darker to the more playful. XXX 88 sees her working with producer Diplo in a pounding RnB flavoured single, while Waste Of Time is an amalgamation of undulating electric guitars and synths. There is a playground-taunting quality to Walk This Way that pulses over the glittering beats, giving it a grittier come-at-me attitude. Slow Love resonates with a chilled disco flavour and I feel it is one of MØ’s most vocally playful tracks, featuring far more heady high notes than the rest of the album. Final track Glass returns back to earth with a heavy bass line and festive sounding keyboards that form a heady and indulgent blend. I think it’s a pity that the standard version of the album finishes here as it doesn’t quite feel like a suitable ending, and the deluxe version’s additions slot in perfectly with the album as a whole.
Title Track No Mythologies To Follow has a ghostly anthemic quality and I feel that it should have been included in the standard version, while the brash Dummy Head could have made a good replacement to Never Wanna Know. The “night versions” of Fire Rides, Dust Is Gone, Slow Love and The Sea are nice touches to the deluxe edition, providing slowed down renditions of the tracks; these make for a refreshing alternative. However it does cause the very last section to drag on a little, and it’s probably for the best that they remain at the end.
Ultimately, MØ’s debut is a triumphant success. Nothing has been overlooked, with every song feeling as though it has had equal attention to detail. No Mythologies To Follow expertly combines eerie choral harmonies with uplifting brass fanfares and urban beats with dance infused bass lines to form a well rounded electronica-pop album. I would say it takes a couple of tracks to really get going, but once it does, there is no stopping its allure. The album has an instant likeability and once it has a hold of you, it is impossible to shake. An excellent debut that will pave the way for a bright future.