Maud unleashes dark-pop power in self-titled album

Maud on Maud on Maud is what you’re getting in the latest release from this Norwegian rising artist. Her ten-track debut album, titled Maud, is not now via Maud Records, so there’s no doubt that this singularly talented creator is at the centre of her vision.

“In many ways this album stands out as a proof that I can be in charge of all the creative processes of making my music. Gaining the creative control over my own project has been so awarding and I can’t wait for this journey to continue,” establishes Maud.

The universe that Maud has created through the new album is resplendent with dark and spiky electronic-pop soundscapes that combine her experimentalist spirit with her instinct for original pop melodies. The themes embedded within the music are self-love, mental health, independence, restlessness, growing up, loneliness, and the future. It’s all laid out to us like a unflinchingly honest and conscientious diary.

We’re permitted into the album with ‘Prologue’, a minute and a half idea of a song through with Maud’s electronic-pop style is displayed in dreamlike fashion. After being warmed up, the listener can then move onto ‘Baby Girl’. The beats are crisp and disjointed, portraying the ultimate disconnect between how women are perceived and how they actually are. Like Maud questions, “can’t you see I’m fighting in battle grounds?”

This palpable dichotomy carries on into ‘Real’, a punchy piece of bassy electronica reminiscent of Sevdaliza. The push and pull of the varying expectations surrounding the idea of womanhood ultimately dissolves Maud‘s sense of self as she exacerbates, “I don’t feel real,” over and over again. Once again we’re led from one scene into another as we join Maud for a therapy session in ‘Nobody’. It’s so much darker and moodier than we’ve yet encountered in this album, with the drama turned up to an eleven around the 1:08 mark showing the intensity of her emotions; she can’t always put it down in words, but can translate it into spine-tingling productions.

Halfway through the record and we’re looking to the ‘Future’. This R&B-influenced track deals with an encroaching sense of anxiety that blossoms into a message of hope. Here Maud tells us a little more about this single: “I think I’ve always been scared of the unknown, and I tend to worry a lot about the future. ‘Future’ explores these emotions while also embracing the fact that it’s impossible to look into the future because life is so unpredictable. Writing this song was a way of coming to terms with my future anxiety, knowing it would only be possible to evolve if I could just lean back and enjoy the ride”

Fittingly, the tone of the album has change a this point resulting in the upbeat number ‘Stay Back’. Built on summery synths and a dance-worthy amalgamation of percussion, this one is a real sing-a-long moment for all those breaking free from oppression and self-doubt. Stepping off the sideline and into ‘Up To Me Now’ in which we hear thoughts from ‘Stay Back’ echoed again with a new confidence. The digitized vocals and sparser beats also radiate a determined expression, a willingness to keep fighting through.

However, the self-doubt soon enough creeps back in as we hear in ‘Bad Things’. This journey of self-development with its setbacks is a realistic representation of how experiences like this aren’t linear and are peppered with moments where the emotional armour wears thin. We love the incorporation of the piano with the harshness of the electronica here as well, there’s something very humanizing about it.

Maud‘s penultimate track is ‘Alone Together’, which may have been inspired by the much used phrase from the pandemic or perhaps it was something more personal. Much like the rest of the album, this song hinges on reciprocal phrases, here it’s “doesn’t make any sense to me” and “we can be alone together”. At nearly five minutes, this song swings into full gear around 3:13 with sustained synths, robust drumwork and plenty of autotune, akin to Bon Iver’s 22, A Million LP.

As much as we’re not ready to say goodbye, we’re at the final track. Closing the album is ‘Aftermath’, a mysterious and floating creation that has a lullaby-esque quality to it. For this reason, it comes across like a reflection of ‘Prologue’ to us, like an image in gently moving water; hard to described but mesmerizing nonetheless.

We really loved the Maud LP and will continue to support this wonderful artist in her next chapter.

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