This could be her best album yet
Adam England
15:00 26th January 2022

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When an artist describes their new album as representing “a huge change in my life” and as feeling “like a new chapter”, you’ll probably expect something a little different, and that’s what we get from MØ on her third LP Motordome.

This current wave of Scandipop (Sigrid, Aurora, Astrid S, Dagny) is dominated by Norweigan artists, but MØ — an electropop fixture of the past decade — was born in the Danish village of Ubberud. While she’s probably best known abroad for her stratospherically successful collaborations with EDM supergroup Major Lazer (‘Lean On’, ‘Cold Water’), her solo work is really where her clear talent is showcased.

And with Motordrome, we get another sleek collection of electro-pop. ‘Kindness’ opens the album with strings, MØ saying that “You and I were meant to be/It’s algorithm, baby”. A strong and infectious opener, it’s reminiscent of Future Nostalgia-era Dua Lipa, and is a clear statement, setting the tone for the rest of the record. 

It’s not all bright and cheerful, though we do get our moments. In the years since 2018’s Forever Neverland, MØ had been feeling burnt out: the album title itself came from a conversation between MØ and her mother about the former’s anxiety, and the punk of her teenage years coming to the fore. For Motordrome, she got friends and collaborators Caroline Ailin and Noonie Bao on board, as well as big names like Ariel Rechtshaid (Vampire Weekend, Haim, Charli XCX) and S.G. Lewis (Dua Lipa, Jessie Ware).

The result is something slightly darker: still the electro-pop you might expect but more thought-provoking. ‘Wheelspin’ has Lana Del Rey vibes, both in the vocals and the wistful instrumentals, but it’s unmistakably MØ at the same time. Likewise with ‘Live To Survive’...the chorus is trademark MØ synth-pop, but in parts it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Miley Cyrus record post-2019.

The electro-rock of ‘Cool To Cry’ extolls the benefits of expressing oneself, while single ‘Brad Pitt’ — named after her childhood crush — is an instant earworm. ‘New Moon’ has quite a retro feel, juxtaposed with lyrics about being “over” a significant other — there’s definite anthem potential here.

“Kiss me here in the dandelions/You’re my one true crush,” sings MØ in the chorus to ‘Youth Is Lost’, a call to arms to slow down and embrace the here and now. It’s one of the slower tracks here, but positively energetic compared to the stunning ‘Goosebumps’, a heart-rending piano ballad that fits perfectly near the end of the album.

‘Punches’, which follows, is a lot more uplifting, and a fitting way to close a record that moves between and explores the relationship between light and dark. It’s fairly pared-back, MØ’s statements about rolling with the titular punches on this “brand new day” punctuated by the sound of cymbals and a melodic phrase that has echoes of Avicii’s ‘The Nights’. 

This isn’t an album that feels rushed, every song here has its place and there’s little if any filler. Everything included is clearly here on merit, and it makes for an emotive listen. MØ sound might have evolved to incorporate both her previous material and her teenage tastes, but this could be her best album yet. It’s algorithm, baby.  

Motordome arrives 28 January via Sony Music.

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Photo: Press