Release Date: Mar 11, 2014
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
MØ (born Karen Marie Ørsted) made her first entrance into the music scene as a shock rapper. But the 25-year-old Danish singer's debut full-length is a completely different beast. The album may be a pop outing at its core, but its roots lay in electroclash, Motown, Balearic dance, and hip-hop. Perhaps shockingly, given that laundry list of genres, No Mythologies to Follow is a fairly cohesive outing.
During a couple of years that have been filled with excited chatter and even more excitable articles (suggesting that she’s probably more of a critics’ favourite than actual popstar, as of the moment at least), Danish singer MØ (or Karen Marie Ørsted, as her passport has it) has been favourably compared to just about every young fashionable female singer going, as is usually the way. That is, until she recently went and spoiled it all by professing a deep-seated love for The Spice Girls. Not that the influence is immediately apparent in her music, and yet it’s all anyone can talk about now – perhaps not helped by her most recent act of mass communication being her placing a cover of Say You’ll Be There on her Soundcloud page (it’s an interpretation that could be best described as "interesting"; thankfully it’s not included here, so we don’t have to discuss it any further).
Bikini Daze, Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted’s debut EP, was one of the most promising and welcome surprises of the past year. While as a result of the record comparisons abound to the vocals of Purity Ring’s Megan James or the music of Chvrches, Bikini Daze saw MØ transcending those comparisons to make pop both catchy and original. Now, on her major label debut No Mythologies To Follow, MØ offers listeners a taste of what she can do alongside major label production.
MØ’s alternate, fractured take on pop isn’t a musical mainstay (it’s been going for only a couple of years in its current form), but the Denmark-based Karen Marie Ørsted has few to zero rivals rivalling her blustering, brash take on things. In ‘No Mythologies To Follow’, there’s the sound of giddy excitement running alongside chart ambition, like a wannabe star seeing their childhood dreams becoming reality in an instant.This is a debut devoted to ambition, trying new things and seeing what sticks. As a result, it’s fairly splintered as a first work, but it succeeds in the sense that it’s showing off every exciting side to MØ.
Karen Marie Ørsted's chosen moniker may translate as "virgin", but you suspect a degree of irony was involved. "Turn the lights off, so our horny souls can have some private time," she sings through the icy synths and stuttering beats of Glass, whereas another moment sees the Danish singer describing a boy who "makes me want to tear my white skin apart". Chaste Christian rock this is not.
MØ (aka Karen Marie Ørsted) is not a run-of-the-mill pop star. Sure, she hails from Denmark and produces compelling and fresh pop songs like many Scandinavians are wont to do, but there’s an earnestness and a charm to her and her music that’s pretty novel. After all, how many pop stars signed to a major label can lay claim to doing something like being one half of a feminist electro-punk band? What’s more, she began her pop persona, MØ, which is roughly pronounced “muuh” and means “Maiden” in Danish, as an attitude-based vessel for raunchy raps.
Five years is a long time, especially in your early 20s, as you try on certain identities and cast off others in search of one you feel more or less comfortable in. Case in point: five years ago, Karen Marie Ørsted was writing Peaches-aping novelty songs titled "When I Saw His Cock", which included raps as trashy as her beats. Fast forward half of a decade, and the only thing the music of the Copenhagen native, now 25, shares with her earliest demos is an omnivorous musical appetite, one that synthesizes a number of of-the-moment sounds on her self-assured debut as MØ, No Mythologies to Follow.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. So much is expected of a debut album in 2014. Although Karen Ørsted has only released one EP, last year's Bikini Daze, the hype ahead of the release of her debut full-length has been relentless. This torrent of pressure and expectation can sometimes lead new artists to play it safe with their first offering.
Scandinavia has long had a reputation as the home of ‘good pop’, so much so that every year there seems to be a fresh batch of bright young things ready to lay claim to the hearts and minds of the wider world. MØ (nee. Karen Marie Ørsted) is one such lady, and her debut album No Mythologies To Follow comes in the wake of the usual mix of blog buzz, eye-opening live performances and the odd big-name collaboration (with Diplo, in this case).
The verdict is still out on Lana Del Rey and whether we will look back on her career as a cautionary tale or as a turbulent rise to stardom, but in 2014 it is hard to deny her influence on pop music and beyond. Miley Cyrus not only covered “Summertime Sadness” recently, but her signature song, “Wrecking Ball,” showcases a verse that bites the lilt of Del Rey, only without the smoky, piano bar vibe. Of course, Lorde also bears a resemblance with her vocal delivery, though her age and celebrity obscure the similarity.
Since there's currently no mainstream female pop vocal outfit, the debut album of Danish pop singer Karen Marie Ørsted, or MØ, is the closest we have in 2014 to the 90s girl group sound. Ørsted has made no secret of her affection for that genre: she recently released a cover of the Spice Girls' 1996 hit Say You'll Be There. And although her sputtering drum machines and disjointed beats are evocative of hip-hop/R&B-influenced acts Purity Ring and AlunaGeorge, her harmonies, romantic obsessions and affinity for the xylophone hark back to the Phil Spector era.
Love is a battleground in Karen Marie Ørsted's debut album – desires ravage, souls bleed, a heart gets broken in two – but the 24-year-old Dane is up for the fight. "What if I choose to tear down the walls and take you in my arms?" is her response to a romantic obstacle on Maiden. The pleasures here are familiar: these aren't the first Scandinavian pop songs to juxtapose glacial synths and booming drums with tropical guitar licks.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH Synth-pop is a tired beast. A genre that reached its apogee in the eighties demands serious innovation on the part of the artist in order to remain relevant—and riveting—in the internet age. Scandinavia seems to have a monopoly on synth-pop to this day, so no one bats an eye when some new upstart emerges with a catchy track.
Out of the recent eruption of indie-pop female powerhouses like Lorde, Grimes and Purity Ring emerges Danish-born Karen Marie Ørsted, otherwise known as MØ. In the last year or so, MØ has released one full EP, Bikini Daze, but has otherwise been slowly dropping dynamite singles as well as collaborations with electro icons, including Diplo and Avicii. MØ is a self-proclaimed player in the pop world, even citing the Spice Girls as an early inspiration, who she recently nodded to with an inventive cover of Say You’ll Be There.
At the rate Scandinavia’s propelling its glut of rapturous pop surgeons (Naomi Pilgrim, Elliphant, Zhala and seemingly countless others) Karen Ørsted (AKA MØ)has her work cut out ensuring that her pulse of hype last year wasn’t ill-timed, and her time in the limelight hasn’t fizzled out. Staying relevant among a sea of like-minded sonic butchers with ruthless ambition and an Edison-esque knack for invention is no simple feat, especially if after a particularly stunning Bikini Daze EP she was to line debut LP No Mythologies To Follow with anything but unadulterated perfection. Not an easy task; the pressure’s unreal here, palpable even.
MØ No Mythologies to Follow (Chess Club/RCA Victor) As MØ (pronounced "muuh"), Karen Marie Ørsted lands somewhere between the vampy Lana Del Rey and crunchy production queen Grimes. Full-length debut No Mythologies to Follow comes birthed from email chains with Rhye producer Ronni Vindahl, whose beats behind Ørsted's seductive croon are reined in just enough to prevent them from swallowing her whole. Even as Vindahl's production dazzles, Ørsted stands up to the crush.