The Lowdown: MØ is Danish, and her name is pronounced somewhat like an American might pronounce the sound a cow makes. Audiences were exposed to her massive melodies after she featured on the worldwide smash hits “Lean On” and “Cold Water” by Major Lazer. MØ comes from the Scandinavian school of songwriting, where every part of the song is a hook, and no tune is ever hummable enough. Forever Neverland is her second album in that vein.
The Good: If you like choruses that tend towards the epic, then look no further: Forever Neverland has more hooks than your local Bait & Tackle. MØ is at her best working with forceful collaborators, like on “Sun in Our Eyes”, produced by Diplo. Charli XCX stops by to add some Auto-Tuned attitude to “If It’s Over”, and Empress Of’s trademark buoyancy helps “Red Wine” soar.
The Bad: It’s not generally a good sign that all the best songs on the album involve other voices. MØ is overqualified to be a ghostwriter but a bit underwhelming as a solo act. She’s got a big, distinctive voice, but a narrow emotional range. The lyrics may be full of joy or tending towards despair, but she delivers them all with the same sassy whine. This is one of the reasons that the songs on Forever Neverland all run together. It doesn’t help that the lyrics are impersonal, even generic. Not even a few carefully chosen “fucks” can give this music an edge.
On the deluxe edition of her first album, No Mythologies to Follow, MØ included alternate versions of several songs, which she called “Night Versions.” The “Night Versions” are, without exception, improvements on the originals, and the difference is in the backing instrumentals. She trades in dancey drums and glittering synths for rich choral arrangements. The results sound a bit like Fleet Foxes producing Lykke Li — two artists with lots of critical acclaim and not much radio play. Perhaps, new night versions are coming, but right now Forever Neverland is unrelentingly bright.
The Verdict: MØ deserves credit for consistency; almost every song on Forever Neverland is pleasant enough, but few rise above “pleasant.” The everything-is-a-hook songwriting style works better in small doses. By the end of Forever Neverland, your ear might feel the way your stomach feels after a Halloween sugar binge. This music is best enjoyed in moderation.
Essential Tracks: “Sun in Our Eyes”, “If It’s Over”, and “Red Wine”