Maybe its the accent. Maybe its her ability to release quirky and angular pop tracks that has some of the biggest producers in the world wanting to work with her. Maybe is Maybelline. Whatever it is, MØ has historically been able to hit the mark with her music and live performances. Here on new album Motordrome, the Danish artist channels some of her best pop sensibilities and songwriting, all the while managing to just fall short of making the album one that will continue to resonate with listeners for a while to come.
From the get-go, Motordrome relies heavily on a thumping and at time relentless bass beat. This definitely isn’t a bad thing, and for the most part the drum pad, synthesiser and 808s work well with the intended outcomes of the album. It’s an album with as many danceable parts as there are moments where you can feel MØ pouring her heart out open for all to see and hear. “Cool to Cry”, with its choral chant ‘I’m not too cool to cry’ shows an artist who’s putting herself in the drivers seat of her life and relationship. It’s not the most groundbreaking content, but its ever reliable themes (also seen on lead single “Live to Survive” and “New Moon”) allows Motordrome to follow in the footsteps of other post-break up revenge albums not too dissimilar Olivia Rodrigo‘s Sour.
Thematically, Motordrome takes the listener through the stages of the protagonist’s relationship: from young and excited love where all red flags are ignored, to troubled times and attempts at reconciling differences before breaking up, to lastly accepting that you’re better off without the other person after all. Opener “Kindness” is all excitement about a new relationship, while the fairytale in waiting “Brad Pitt” is trying to find hope in a relationship destined to fail. Lastly, “Goosebumps” is MØ’s answer to Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers Licence” or Adele’s “Someone Like You”. It’s hard not to feel the pain in MØ’s delivery, as the piano delivery allows the song to throw back to a time where MØ was still full of hope for the relationship and love. It’s these moments on the album that hit the hardest and most deep. You can just picture it now in a live setting: MØ comes back for an encore sans band, accompanied only by a pianist, lighting turned down ready to deliver an almighty version of “Goosebumps”. It would be the set highlight and a moment that would stick with many fans as they recount the show to their friends.
Overall, Motordrome is a pop album with plenty of moments that hit the spot, but just fail to leave an everlasting impression. There are moments that soar and stand out, like “Hip Bones”; it floats to new heights with a rollicking guitar solo matched by MØ’s strongest and most sincere vocals. Additionally, “Punches” is a dramatic and forceful closer that sums up Motordrome in 3 minutes: clean yet industrious pop music with a Nordic flair, featuring hints of an orchestral presence that has the capabilities of breaking new ground into the mainstream but lacks that last 10% to really take that final leap.
Motordrome feels like an album that had the potential to really be something great for a lot of people at a certain time in their lives. The album knows what it can do well but overall the listener may feel short changed by songs that promise so much but just fall at the final hurdle. It’s a commendable album that people will listen to; it might just not be revisited time and again.
THREE AND HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Motordrome is out Friday 28 January.