An Analysis of mxmtoon’s Album rising and Why it Deserves More Love
The soft, periwinkle hues of mxmtoon’s latest album, rising, light up the screen as the first song, and lead single, “mona lisa,” begins to croon: “I’ve always played the part of Shakespeare / I hide behind the ink and pen.” Maia, professionally named mxmtoon, is most known for her song “prom dress,” which became popular on TikTok. She released rising on May 20th, 2022, and the deluxe edition on September 16th of the same year. The album was well received, with the songs “mona lisa” and “frown” reaching over 11 million and 5 million views respectively on Spotify. However, most songs on the album sit below a million streams, a fact that I find disheartening given the quality of each track. Between the intricate lyrics, relatable subjects, pleasant music, and mxmtoon’s serene voice, the album has a lot of ground to stand on.
Mxmtoon’s writing is relatable and has the quality of literature, with vivid imagery, metaphors, and aesthetic lyrics. Track 6, “florida” stands attest to her writing skill with its first verse: “salty tears and humid skies / The sticky heat of Florida.” One of the softer songs on this album, these lyrics move slowly, and bring listeners directly into the setting and feeling of the song. With lyrics like: “mourning memories with you / There is nothing left to do,” and “fate is written on the page / We can never outrun age / Blow out the candles on your birthday cake,” mxmtoon has listeners of all ages experiencing the intricacies of aging with a sad yet grounding honesty. Meanwhile, the deluxe album ends with “kaleidoscope,” a song that portrays a colourful acceptance towards one’s uniqueness: “I’m a kaleidoscope / Beauty in the chaos, I just ebb and flow.” Mxmtoon’s use of metaphor combined with aesthetic prose and slant-rhyme makes this album a work of literature as much as a musical composition. For those who aren’t as invested in literary devices, the lyrics are simply beautiful, and create 14 pleasing tracks.
Within her writing, mxmtoon represents common experiences with validation that every person in their 20s can relate to. “Sad disco,” with its upbeat tempo, describes the loneliness of weekend nights during a time that praises “wild nights out,” and does so in a way that validates feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) while challenging societal pressures. It begins with: “Friday night and she’s bored at home / Her friends are gone, there’s no place to go,” then continues on to say, “takes your hand when you’re bored and alone / It’s your own sad disco.” Mxmtoon takes an underappreciated yet universal sense of loneliness and challenges it by creating a song that one can have their own “sad disco” to. It’s a song that can turn the whole night around. Meanwhile, “growing pains” discusses the scary reality of growing up with a calming acceptance towards one’s younger self. “Frown,” fends off toxic positivity, telling us that “it’s okay to frown,” and thus validating anyone going through a rough time while also doing so in the form of a simultaneously uplifting bop.
Although I could go on endlessly about mxmtoon’s lyrics, the musicality is another selling-point for this album. Rising ebbs and flows itself, with the songs chosen in such a way that they connect seamlessly to keep listeners encased for the entire duration. With the deluxe album being 38 minutes long, it’s the perfect companion for a long bus-ride or walk. The first tracks have a bouncy quality that gradually slows to the album’s midpoint, giving us some softer, more tranquil melodies. Potentially the slowest song on the album, “dizzy” ends softly and “haze” begins similarly, so listeners aren’t jolted to attention at sudden noise. Instead, the album creates a serene continuity from start to finish despite the individuality of each song.
Finally, it would be a moral crime to discuss rising without paying tribute to Maia’s voice. She sings with a soft quality that sounds like she’s in the room humming the music to you. Most of the songs have a low voice register, which is no surprise as she often sits between contralto and mezzo-soprano. However, some of her songs take on a higher, whispering tone of voice that demonstrates her range and control. Those who appreciate soft pop and indie music are sure to appreciate her quality of voice.
All in all, rising is an album that shows off more of mxmtoon’s abilities in singing, writing, and production. It is an album I often play through from start to finish so I can appreciate the time and effort put into each song. It’s for these reasons that I highly recommend this album to anyone looking for new music, as it deserves all the love, and is still, nearly a year after its initial release, drastically underappreciated.