We live in an age of kids making music in their bedrooms, trying to make it big. If Clairo can do it, why can’t they? So when someone breaks that mold, it always catches my attention.
Maude Latour is a 20 year old at Columbia majoring in Philosophy and Political Science. Oh, and she makes really good pop music. With two political journalists for parents, Maude was born in Sweden and went to Middle School in Hong Kong before finally moving to New York for high school and college.
You should listen to her if you like Lana del Rey, Lorde or the aforementioned Clairo, and their influences are definitely apparent in her music. However, there’s something unique about Maude’s particular brand of pop music. It’s at once contemplative and euphoric; sticky sweet synths and bright guitar riffs accompanying insightful songwriting. It’s pop, with a purpose.
Her only releases to date have been the “Starsick EP” and her 2 singles, “Furniture” and “One More Weekend”(read the review for those here). In the span of just 8 songs, she displays chart topping potential.
The title track, produced by Alexander 23, is a reflection on revolution and an ode to her best friend. “The Revolution” was a pact she made with her best friend in high school to never be ‘boring’, but it has evolved into something bigger. In her own words,
“The Revolution is the concept that everyone’s primary goal in life should be mindfulness and empathy, and defining your own spirituality based on total love for yourself and others.”
You don’t have to believe in the idea to be able to admire it, pop songwriting about topics like these, while not rare, is certainly uncommon. Expanding on the track, she says,
“The notion of the word “starsick” came to me while I was at Joshua Tree, lying on the roof of a rental car staring at a sea of stars. As a kid, I was haunted by the concept of black holes. For just a few seconds, I could fully grasp what nothingness really meant. It was my deepest fear as a child.”
This very fear of death also shows up on the EP’s second track; Superfruit. The song’s themes are a lot more grounded, talking about a summertime crush, drinking freshly squeezed orange juice, Maude touches on loneliness at college and her inability to make small talk. Life isn’t perfect, and most people can and do have both of these experiences at the same time. It’s my favourite track off the EP, with bubbly production and effortless delivery, the chorus was stuck in my head for days.
On the third song, “Plans”, the Lorde references are apparent, with some of the vocal processing and tone sounding like it was straight off a Melodrama interlude, but don’t get me wrong, some of the vocal gymnastics on this track are fantastic. Once again, Maude is able to write a different kind of love song, where she says,
“We phrase love as if it’s another person affecting us, but in actuality, it is ourselves changing and evolving and growing. Through love and heartbreak and crushes we see what we need and who we are. ‘Plans’ is a feeling for me; a warm and shimmering start of something new.”
Surprisingly, Shoot and Run, her biggest song to date, isn’t my favorite. I like the intro and verse, but something about that deep voiced chorus backed by the piano just doesn’t resonate with me. Similarly, “Ride My Bike” has a fantastic pre-chorus, but the chorus combined with the electronic influenced instrumental isn’t for me. I appreciate the euphoric sentiment of the song, much like the feeling its title describes, as Maude talks of “not being afraid to die” for the first time in her life.
Lovesick, the final track on the EP, is inspired by her studies of Sappho and Virgil in college, as Maude talks about being thankful for even being able to be lovesick in the first place.
“‘It’s insane how powerful heartache is, it is the stuff of life. This song is about these feelings; acknowledging their power, letting it go and being grateful for how lucky we are to feel any sort of connection between people despite how much space there is in the world.”
The build up to chorus is interesting as Maude switches between different cadences and tones, singing her way up to a crescendo. The chorus itself sounds heavenly, as a choir sings overlapping harmonies with her voice weaving in and out of them, it’s an apt closer.
While the EP might wear its influences on its sleeve, especially sonically, it is lyrically unique, and in my opinion, was a fantastic debut project that showcased a ton of potential. The influences of her education and upbringing in her music and specifically her songwriting that draws me to her the most. It’s a unique blend, and one that I hope Maude develops with future releases.