MØ – ‘Motordrome’ review: rebellious star’s smouldering slow-pop stays in one lane

The Danish artist's gear shift of a third record doesn't always hit the mark – but its nu-disco influences offer up an intriguing new sound

First cutting her teeth by playing squat shows and by penning brash political songs such as ‘Fisse I Dit Fjæs’ (Danish for ‘Pussy In Your Face’) with her punk band MOR, strikes you as a different kind of pop star, enamoured by The Spice Girls and Kim Gordon in equal measures. Her 2014 debut album ‘No Mythologies To Follow’ turned this rebellious streak into ear-wormy pop that grappled with the twisted state of the world.

By the time her astronomically popular Major Lazer collaboration ‘Lean On’ came out, MØ had fully infiltrated mainstream pop. Partly due to the intense pressure of that song’s success, second record ‘Forever Neverland’ took some time to manifest. “I had to find my own voice again, in a way,” she told DIY. The resulting record showed another side to MØ, exploring subtler and more varied sounds.

While ‘Forever Neverland’ still seemed in the shadow of ‘Lean On’ and the Justin Bieber-featuring ‘Cold Water’, her third album ‘Motordrome’ does its own thing. Its biggest and best banger ‘New Moon’ shares a bouncy, nu-disco strut with recent records from Kylie Minogue, Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware as MØ triumphantly basks in the sweet spot of contentment that follows a huge but inevitable break-up. “Don’t you know it’s a new moon?” she sings, gazing upward. “And I’m over you.” Another stand-out comes in the shape of ‘Live to Survive’. with its robotic ‘80s drum pads, modulating synths, and low-pass filters. “You thought you were out of my league,” she quips, “I’m out of your league”. It’s a bright, punchy sound that works perfectly for MØ – you just wish there was far more of it.


Elsewhere, ‘Motordrome’ doesn’t have the same immediate grip – though the message of ‘Cool To Cry’ comes from a well-meaning place, its scuzzy guitars drag along on one note, and lyrically it suffers from cloying sincerity: “you don’t need to play down your emotions,” she sings, “you can leave them out in the open”. The fist-clenching ‘Goosebumps’ and the slow, trudging power-pop of ‘Wheelspins’ fail to surprise or stick – something which develops into a reoccurring theme.

These patchier moments leave you missing the wit found alongside ‘Hip Bone”s gloriously OTT guitar solo, or ‘Brad Pitt’’s slow-burning yowls. You don’t have to try so hard – I’m impressed,” MØ  remarks on the latter, sending up Shania Twain’s ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’. These stand-out moments grab you with their humour – the immensely memorable hooks on show certainly help, too – but after ‘Motordrome’’s fizzled out, you’re left wishing the engines revved a little louder.


Release date: January 28

Release label: RCA

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