Where EPs ‘dawn’ and ‘dusk’ showcased an artist that embraces distinct parallels, ‘rising’ maximises mxmtoon’s sharp pop acumen, now leaning into a complete, rounded personality in the form of disco-tinged verdant self-love anthems. Maia has always been an open book, but songs like ‘learn to love you’ and ‘sad disco’ are particularly revealing, as she sings on the former: “Once in a while, it feels like there’s too much to prove in this life” before a glowing, fuzz guitar chorus envelops the track. On ‘victim of nostalgia’ she asks “Will I always be the words I wrote when I was 17?” reinforcing the album-wide sentiment of reflecting on artistic progression, evident alone by the title itself. ‘rising’ eventually moves from lamenting the past, to embracing the status quo (’growing pains’), and finally rebirth on the finale (’coming of age’). It tells an indulgent and personal story of subsistence through her candid lens. What makes the record so enchanting is that Maia isn’t cosplaying as a confessional teenager, but in fact at 21 she holds first-hand experience of growing up ‘stranded’ by a pandemic, and the growing pains therein. Maia is to indie-pop what Olivia Rodrigo is to pop-punk - a fresh and welcome face that disregards gatekeeping in favour of utilising nostalgia to captivate new audiences, bridging a gap that ignores the omnipotent zeitgeist for confessional, shimmering accessibility.
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