Published Sep 17, 2019In many ways, mxmtoon, the project of an Oakland singer/songwriter known mononymously as Maia, is quintessentially teenage. The ukulele-toting singer brings her wry sense of humour and diary-entry lyricism to her debut record, recalling the lo-fi relatability of Frankie Cosmos. She's charming, candid and unafraid to delve into some tougher themes, even if her musical arrangements sometimes can't quite keep up with her artistic persona.
A track like "seasonal depression" is a good showcase for Maia's lyrical charm, with lines like "I just don't see a whole lot of sun / And lately I just can't seem to have any fun" appearing alongside "I don't like L.A. / Except for tacos and Venice / But God I would move / Get some rays and play tennis." For someone like Maia, talking about tacos and depression in the same song makes perfect sense; she isn't dismissing the issue of depression, but rather trying to make sense of it in her own unique way. "Prom dress" sees her declaring "I'd be the prom queen if crying was a contest," and later on she gets even more real with "I guess I thought that prom was gonna be fun / Now I'm sitting on the floor and all I want to do is run."
There's also self-awareness to Maia's lyricism. "I write these songs / Singing like I'm an expert," she comments on "my ted talk." It's tough to be an expert on love and heartbreak when you're not even 20 years old, but that doesn't stop her being candid about her own experiences on tracks like "dream of you" and "unspoken words."
If relatability is often brought up with young singer-songwriters like Maia, it's because it's one of their greatest strengths —how open she is on the record and her youthful embrace of her own personal quirks make her an easy figure to relate to. The record's hooks aren't as strong, but her honesty should be more than enough to stick with listeners once the record finishes. (Independent)