mxmtoon fans have quite literally watched her grow up through her music. After getting her start by recording covers from the guest room in her parents’ home at just 17, the soon-to-be indie-pop sensation began to amass an impressive catalog of music. With countless singles, many EPs and now two studio albums under her belt, mxmtoon has evolved and come into her own with each and every release, and her new album, rising is no different.
Filled to the brim with dreamy, retro, atmospheric pop anthems that are dripping with emotion, rising finds mxmtoon looking inward once more, and the result is stunning. The cinematic “mona lisa” opens the album with what feels like a full orchestra – strings and a harp really set the song apart – and the songs that follow feel like a celebration of self-acceptance from an artist that clearly has grown to know and love herself more than ever with this release. With songs like “learn to love you” admitting, “Once in a while it feels like there’s too much to prove / And that’s why you’ve got to learn to love you” and “frown” insisting, “It’s okay to frown” mxmtoon promises listeners that it’s okay not to be okay. Meanwhile, songs like the 90’s tinged “victim of nostalgia”, “growing pains” and “coming of age” find mxmtoon feeling a sense of longing for the past while also coming to terms with growing up.
Each track on rising feels like it could be a lead single, which is both the album’s greatest strength and possibly its only weakness. While there are only a few moments to take a breather (see the emotionally vulnerable “florida” and following track, “scales”), that also means that there is absolutely no filler on the album. There are no skippable moments – not one single song that feels like it should have been cut – and that alone is a feat in itself.
While there’s no arguing that mxmtoon excels at creating catchy as hell indie pop hits, rising’s greatest strength isn’t in its sing-along ready choruses or dreamy instrumentals, but is instead in the lyrical content. The album’s themes of self-acceptance, growth, change, grief and hope are what will resonate with listeners long after the final note of “coming of age” rings out, and it’s what will have them pressing play again. mxmtoon’s ability to bare her soul in an incredibly earnest and relatable way is not something that can be coached or manufactured, and that’s what makes rising a must-listen.