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.
Of the twelve cuts on offer, some are familiar – “Pilgrim”, “XXX 88”, “Waste Of Time” and others have all been previously dropped. The latter, brimming with glacial shards of burbling synth, witchcraft vocal hooks and a tormented approach to synthpop’s hallmarks, was/is one of the strongest pop tracks of 2013. While definitively phenomenal, the track are superfluous on the record – considering that two of those were on Bikini Daze and that we’ve had them on repeat for months as it is, it feels like the disc space would’ve been better utilised on some alienating gambles or severed offcuts, like a few of the nine extra ones on the deluxe version. But these are mere minor niggles. Aside from some editing flaws, it’s difficult to fault MØ’s première outing.
First up, deserving copious kudos, are MØ’s vocal chords. She’s got a voice that tightrope-walks between sickly lovelorn teen, perma-guest-spotter-on-dance-bangers and electro-indie deity. She’s effortlessly expressive, and in addition to being a great vocalist, she conveys emotions in her delivery as well as via the lyrics. No Mythologies To Follow may not feature many natural timbres, but MØ’s not skimped in the au naturel department when it comes to her singing, and unlike the cybernetic instrumentation, her words are earnest and organic, even when smothered in outlandish FX. It’s the element that her electro-pop needs to stop it sounding plastic or robotic.
When it comes to fresh material, she’s brought her A-game. “Fire Rides”, a swooning mixture of Lana Del Rey crooning and deliriously off-kilter dance-pop. The main chorus hook is addictive, but it sure sounds like whoever recorded it was a wee bit sozzled during the take – and it’s glorious. “Maiden” jitters, leaning heavy on the squiddly noodling (think Everything Everything, old Foals or Two Door Cinema Club), amidst silky bouts of MØ emoting; “Red In The Grey”, with its disparate sections roughly sewn together, and a tropical melody that will lodge itself deep in your mind, is deliciously wrong. As great as these – and all the tracks – are, none, bar perhaps some of the previously heard paeans, come close to the calibre of “Walk This Way” – no, it’s not an Aerosmith cover (though that sure would be ace, right?) – which is pure joy. “All my life I step to the rhythm of the drums inside my he-e-ead,” is set to be a neo-disco commandment; try as you might, removing that earworm from your head will require industrial forceps rather than the standard methods of removal.
MØ’s debut LP is an exquisite collection of synthpop, dance and gushing, heartfelt emotions. More often than not those emotions centre around the tenets of partying, but that’s fine; Icona Pop’s record is a dollop of certified tuneage, and its lyrical variety ranges from ‘woo, let’s party!’ to ‘WOO! LET’S PARTY’. On No Mythologies To Follow, MØ not only proves she’s capable of crafting a superb collection of pristine pop, but that despite the ceaseless flood of Scandi-pop gold, she’s completely, unequivocally necessary in 2014. This is the start of what promises to be a fantastic career.