sun 21/07/2024

Album: MØ - Motordrome | reviews, news & interviews

Album: MØ - Motordrome

Album: MØ - Motordrome

Scandi-pop mainstay adds a dash of indie despondence to her third album

She'll be back

Danish pop star MØ is as well known for her collaborations as her own music. Shining brighter than all of them is the globe-slaying, 24 carat dance craze "Lean On” from 2015, created with Major Lazer and DJ Snake, and, for a few years, Spotify’s most-streamed song.

MØ has, however, also steadily maintained her own career, her attitude and personality usually carving through the pop gloss that surrounds her work. Her latest album, her third, is, she reckons, a return to darker, more honest songwriting. She now says she’s unsure whether 2018’s Forever Neverland stayed “true” to herself. Indeed, Motordrome has no equivalent candied moments, but it’s also not as punchy.

Whatever music she makes, MØ is a likeable pop star, not from the cookie cutter, emanating unforced enigma, her face maintaining an appealing sullenness, her voice cutesy yet spiky, vulnerable when it needs to be. The title Motordrome riffs on the Danish word “dødsdrom”, meaning "existentially trapped", and the idea is that MØ is stepping off the meaningless hamster wheel of fame and promotion to return to herself.

There is indeed a melancholy to it. This is partly down to minor chords and a sparser electro-pop production, as well as the keening guitar solos on “Brad Pitt” and “Hip Bones”, the latter tune underpinned by a vaguely new wave-ish moroseness. However, the lyrics seem mostly about lost love, nostalgic love and self-love, from the piano-driven slowie “Goosebumps” to the #MeToo-touched moodiness of “New Moon” (“It’s a new moon and I’m over you”) to the album’s one outright banger, the self-affirming “Live to Survive”.

The best song is the last one, the epic “Punches”, with its twangin’ guitar and sense of being trapped and seeking escape, with references to the mythical open road (and to Bikini Kill!). It really does sound like a woman who urgently wants to re-engage with her original, raw muse. Overall, though, while a pensive and occasionally doleful step sideways from what has come before, a certain energy is lacking in Motordrome's execution.

Below: watch the video for "New Moon" by MØ


It happens sometimes that albums grow on us. We don't quite 'get' them on a first or second listen. This album has grown on me and I no longer agree with the implication in my review above that the album is off-puttingly morose. It's certainly more downtempo in mood and tempo than what came before but its poppy melancholy has really grown on me over the weeks. Stick with it!

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