Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Mae Muller struggles to find a distinct sonic identity on her otherwise encouraging debut album Sorry I’m Late

"Sorry I'm Late"

Release date: 29 September 2023
Mae Muller - Sorry I'm Late - Album Art
29 September 2023, 00:00 Written by Finlay Holden

Mae Muller has been building buzz in the pop scene for just shy of five years now, and it’s about time we got a proper long-form release from the English singer – a fact she is outwardly acknowledging with the title of her debut album; Sorry I’m Late.

A belated result of a long self-growth journey, the 17-track record is endowed with impactful messages that young women need to hear, lessons that Mae has learned along the way: take responsibility for your mistakes ("Sorry Daniel") but don’t be afraid of your inner ferocity ("Bitch With A Broken Heart"), don’t worry about living up to unrealistic expectations ("Porn Lied To Us") and allow yourself to indulge in some low moments ("Somebody New"). Unfortunately, the potency of these ever-relevant themes is diluted by bland sonic choices.

Muller has established herself as an enduring personality never lacking in substance and fun, but a bloated collection here doesn’t always offer the most direct translation of the artist behind the work. Jumping between short and inconsistently developed tracks, her songs rarely span more than 3 minutes and frequently stop short of elaborating on some otherwise interesting ideas.

The understated, glossy pop packaging around her progressive songwriting creates a generic delivery mechanism that struggles to cement a unique identity for Mae Muller. That being said, there are still standout moments that flourish and surprise. The off-kilter but addictive hook of "Breathe" is followed by an explosive chorus with "Something Real" on the record’s back end, while elsewhere assured single "Me, Myself & I" revels in self-prioritising energy – these three songs alone do justify a listen. Production from NEIKED ensures a level of cohesion across the board, even if the inclusion of breakout track "Better Days" feels misplaced here.

Underneath the constrained surface, Mae remains an authentic voice expressing the woes of young women living in a world where their multifaceted feelings and experiences still lack genuine representation. Her vulnerability and honesty shine most in the low moments, with the brief acoustic diversion on "MTJL," exposing an all-encompassing sense of sadness, and a piano-backed admission of self-doubt on "Miss America," revealing previously unseen depth within the London singer’s usually sassy output.

Big thematic swings are sadly numbed by some less than bold creative choices, but the excitement behind Mae as an artist will endure. Having natural cultivated an adoring fanbase, expedited that growth with "Better Days" and gained an international platform with her Eurovision appearance, there is an audience of millions waiting for this album. Sorry I'm Late is certainly a belated arrival but it shows signs of positive momentum for Mae Muller and will have an emotional impact upon listeners whose path intertwines with hers – it’s just a shame that any sense of sonic bravery wasn’t given the opportunity to carry that influence further.

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