by Emma Turney
MØ’s sophomore album Forever Neverland can best be described as a pleasant listen. But that’s it: it’s just a pleasant listen. She doesn’t try to push any boundaries or stray too far from what she’s been doing with artists like Diplo or Major Lazer for the past four years. There are moments where you begin to think MØ is onto something, but they are ultimately surrounded by overproduction and predictable lyrics.
On ‘I Want You’, MØ sings superficial lyrics about wanting someone with the cringe worthy line “Makes me wanna put my phone down.” It’s a listenable song and at times I almost actually enjoy it. The slight click of a lighter as MØ sings “Burn this fucking house down” is refreshingly unique. But alas, this is a common occurrence, as most of the songs on Forever Neverland have only moments of greatness. On ‘Imaginary Friend’, MØ coyly asks her partner to meet her in a dark room. It’s cool and slick as MØ whispers over a light harp and explodes into deep synths. But MØ using the childlike term “imaginary friend” to describe having sex in the dark feels strange and, again, slightly cringe-worthy.
Honestly, many of the songs are just plain forgettable. ‘Sun In Our Eyes’, assisted by her longtime collaborator Diplo, shows MØ’s pop-perfect voice but you forget what you just listened to as you move on to equally average songs. MØ attempts her take on a ballad with ‘Mercy’, but the lyrics are too shallow to make up for the lack of production. ‘Red Wine’, featuring Empress Of, is another moment where I think MØ could’ve struck gold. But it’s again the repetition of the same kinds of sounds throughout the album that make everything sound like the same song. Not to mention the best part in ‘Red Wine’ is when MØ isn’t singing.
When MØ tries out new styles, she shows a glimmer of hope that she could be more than just a top 40 collaborator. The best song by far on Forever Neverland comes in the acoustic guitar autotuned ‘Blur’. As likely one of my favorite songs of 2018, ‘Blur’ mixes interesting production with emotionally vulnerable lyrics. It reminds me of the feeling I got when I first listened to ‘Never Be Like You’ by Flume. MØ sounds desperate as she sings “Let me out, I’m trapped in a blur. Started out the way I wanted but it’s weird now.” On the Charli XCX collaborated ‘If It’s Over’, MØ creates another addicting hook. The only problem I see in this song is the obvious influence by Charli because it sounds like something straight off her 2017 album Pop 2. And again, the best part of the song is the collaborator’s verse as Charli brings her signature auto tune.
‘West Hollywood (Interlude)’ makes me wonder what Forever Neverland could’ve been if MØ would’ve taken a different route. It’s only one minute long, but it features MØ’s best writing of her career. She sings of longing to get out of a toxic place, specifically calling out to her mother in the line “All I wanna do is just call up my mom and get my ass out of West Hollywood.” If the rest of the album featured lyrics like this, I think MØ could’ve had something very similar to Melodrama by Lorde.