The Danish singer/songwriter known as MØ (Karen Marie Ørsted) is breaking some ground with her mood heavy electropop and intensely dreamy vocals.
The Copenhagen-based singer’s debut full-length album No Mythologies to Follow carries on the tradition of Scandinavian pop music that stands apart from the rest of the world.
Maybe it’s the wind coming off the North Sea waves, but Norse electropop is on the left of alternative with sonic abstraction and an eccentric eagerness for new ways of expression via textures, rhythms and playing with technology.
Ørsted shows experimental kinship with oddball singers like Lykke Li, and emotes in similar refrain to torchy songstress, Lana Del Ray. She’s a dreamy, compelling figure with a stark physicality in her presence and a haunted note in her voice.
The shimmery reimaginings of the alternate side of synth pop on No Mythologies to Follow are never more startling than on Maiden. Ørsted’s voice is lush and elastic and the contrast to the shifting music underneath is startling – she has a languorous sense of time that navigates the track freely. When paired with clean bursts of electric guitar and pushing beats, the song becomes a pristine wash of modern synth rock. Expression and robotics make a sound that’s pure and evocative.
The otherworldliness of Ørsted’s voice is suited to the neutrality of synthesizers. Some arrangements can meander, but the imagery in Ørsted’s lyrics and the music’s bold soundscapes reveal enough unusual ideas and unheard of sounds to hold focus.
There’s a true gothic character to Ørsted’s moods and phrasing. She conjures up mini-Götterdämmerungs on certain tracks (Don’t Wanna Dance and Waste of Time). The visuals are dramatic and full of yearning and the music is stark and chilling.
Ørsted’s flair for balladry is given dark settings in Never Wanna Know and Dust is Gone – two cinematic songs that have roots in old-time backwoods laments.
Turn on the keyboards, machines and reverb and turn the lights down; it’s all the same.
— Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician and freelance writer who reviews new music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.