MAUMAUMAU Announces EP, Shares Curveball
okay may be the debut EP from the Rotterdam-based artist Mia Porter but it has a confidence to its sound that makes you feel sure that you have lived with Porter’s music for years. This self-produced set of 5 songs is laid out like a journey which begins with ‘daisies’ and opens with a gently played acoustic guitar that supports Porter’s unforced but resolute vocal delivery. It feels like we are being taken by the hand and led through a Summer forest and, upon reaching a clearing, the other instruments slowly start to introduce themselves: a pop of synthesiser, some compressed electric piano, and dampened bass and then a final crescendo of icy keyboards hooks.
‘mercy’ strolls into town on a rolling riff; this may be a sliver of a song at only 2’ 13” but it’s one of the standouts on the EP as it delivers a tunefully beguiling chorus of “I’m at the mercy of my fragility’. ‘pivot’ has a harder edge with slight distortion on the drums and bass and it has lyrics that seem to shine a spotlight on the fears of modern society such as FOMO and our collective egos fighting to “have it all”. ‘cowboy’ would not be out of place in the repertoire of Ute Lemper or Marlene Dietrich, with the words flowing slowly and dripping with irony. The EP closes with ‘woman’ which feels like a meditation on how to stay true to your feminist ideals and also wrestle with the resulting weariness of constantly defending them: “There’s nowhere for us to rest as we drag our bodies up the hill. And with our roses all in bloom, we keep on pushing and pushing our wheel” but the swell of horns at the end seems to bring a more optimistic resolution.
The title of the EP and all the songs are set in lowercase and this use of understatement sets the tone for the songs. They don’t push or shove you; they are intoxicating and persuasive and collect you from the start and carry you through start to finish. Mia Porter’s voice is outstanding, half lower-register Kate Bush as heard on The Sensual World and on the track ‘woman’, half Laurie Anderson’s speak/sing style. The musical arrangements and production on okay bring a cohesion that is so often overlooked by singer-songwriters who fail to use the studio as part of the personality of the tracks. It’s as accomplished a debut I can remember and I feel sure will be a set of songs I will return to many times.
Review by Paul F Cook