Reviewing Mxmtoon (Maia)’s Quarantine Album, Dawn

mxmtoon maia

This is a review for the new EP, Dawn, from Maia aka mxmtoon, but it’s really just an introduction/review of Maia in general. If you’re not familiar with mxmtoon, she’s a young singer named Maia from Oakland who is… the best way to describe her, I think, would be that she’s the light to Billie Eilish’s dark. They’re like two sides of the same coin. Where Billie Eilish is singing about fucking your dad and getting needles stabbed into her back in her music videos, Maia is singing about looking on the bright side in a world of pink rainbows and handdrawn stars and gushing about Animal Crossing characters.

Maia’s voice combined the sultry lounge-singer timbre of Norah Jones with the brightness, whimsy and innocence of drawings on the family fridge. She’s like the end scene of Who Framed Roger Rabbit where all the cartoons are celebrating. She reminds me a lot of a more mainstream Fazerdaze, if you know who that is. (If you don’t, just click the link). Eilish and Maia is a great juxtaposition between nihilistic melancholia and post-nihilist happysad. Two videos to perfectly illustrate this juxtaposition are Eilish’s Ocean Eyes and Maia (mxmtoon)’s recently released No Faker, which, incidentally, is my favorite song on her new EP, Dawn.

The reason I think this juxtaposition is so interesting is because I view them both as a response to our current world, which is basically nihilistic in nature. The world is burning, Australia is on fire, worldwide plague exists, poverty is rampant, war has been perpetual throughout our entire lifetimes, institutions of all kinds but especially of spirituality have been unmasked as predatory, and the internet (basically, our home nowadays in many ways) is an endless cacophony of insults, slurs, hate and rage — the ultimate ruined Thanksgiving bar fight, inescapably happening 24 hours a day.

And so there’s sort of two responses: rote nihilism, sort of giving in to what the world is and adapting to its crushing waves and its bleakness, which is a perfectly valid and relatable response, and post-nihilism, what Nietzsche referred to as active nihilism, which is embracing finding meaning and embracing becoming. I realize that’s getting a bit philosophical for a music review article, but the point is I feel like these two singers represent sort of perfect, pure crystallizations of what modern culture is all about. It’s in this manner that nihilism is a duality. It’s like the juxtaposition of Fight Club and Amelie in the 90s.

Maia sings her songs amidst these bright pastels and you can’t help but feel warmed by them. Her uplifting, “it’s all gonna be okay tone” is comforting and infectious, and, even if it feels logically fantastical, you sort of know deep down that yeah, it’s all gonna be okay.

I am really enjoying Maia (mxmtoon)’s new EP, Dawn, which dropped on YouTube yesterday. Highly recommend it. I’ve been listening to it all day and it’s done a lot more for my coronavirus-fueled sit-in that, like, a celebrity telling me their mansion is a prison and we’re all in this together or whatever.

That’s it for my review of the new Dawn EP from Maia (mxmtoon). Click here for more music reviews and recommendations.

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