MØ - Forever Neverland: The quirky Dane's new LP contains moments of loveliness
Think of Karen "MØ" Andersen and you may well picture one of her smash hit videos. "Lean On", for instance, where the singer gyrates to a Bollywood/ house mashup. Or "Kamikaze" set in post-apocalyptic Ukraine. Yet, for all the Zeitgeist-y imagery what really made those songs so popular was really just simple youthful exuberance. "Forever Neverland" sounds like it should offer much of the same. Instead, it feels curiously grown-up.
MØ, it would seem, has moved in from her recent incarnation as the singer of Diplo pop songs. Diplo - the producer responsible for both "Lean On" and "Kamikaze" - only appears, here, on one song, "Sun in Our Eyes", a sweet slice of Balearic electro-pop. Still, his influence isn't entirely absent. Rather MØ has absorbed some of the superstar DJ's mojo, and mixed it with some Danish quirkiness.
The results feature some real nuggets. Top of the pile are "Mercy" and "Blur" both of which hark back to MØ's indie roots. The former is a particular gem - a slow-burning torch song that finds the singer at the peak of her vocal prowess. The elasticity of her voice, and her dynamic range is on a par with technical mistresses like Sia and Adele. "Blur" is much grungier with Graham Coxon-style acoustic guitars, and a languid melody.
MØ's voice also shines through on many of the electronic numbers. The best are the least self-conscious. "Beautiful Wreck" has a catchy electro-pop vibe, featuring a cool bass vocoder effect. "Red Wine" couldn't come as more of a contrast. Its Ace-of-Base-reggae-style is so wilfully uncool it's hard not to love it.
It's only where the album starts to take itself too seriously that things begin to drag. "It's All Over" featuring the usually irrepressible Charli XCX, sounds strangely po-faced. There are also a handful of tracks, such as "I Want You", where slick production seems to have been favoured over quality tunes. Of course, you have to admire MØ's decision not to include earlier hit singles initially intended for the LP in the finished version. But it makes the quality a little uneven. Then again, who still listens to albums all the way through, anyway? There's more than enough material here to confirm the Danish singer as not only one of the most interesting artists of her generation but also one of the best singers.