Bedroom pop artist mxmtoon, also known as Maia, released her EP dusk on October 1.
Since starting her music career in 2018 with her self-released EP Plum Blossom, she’s amassed a sizeable following. She’s also tremendously improved the overall quality of her songs in terms of both production and style. Dusk expands on this trend of growth, revealing a more mature version of Maia and the problems she confronts.
Dusk is a sort of sequel to her album dawn from earlier this year. Even though the albums are connected, they hold significantly different tones.
Dawn is a time of new beginnings and hope while dusk symbolizes things coming to an end. Maia purposefully plays with those associations to create a contrast, defying the predetermined symbology of dawn and dusk. The connecting thread, however, is that both are transitional periods. Thus, this series of albums encompasses feelings that accompany periods of change whether they’re beginnings or endings.
Similar to dawn, this follow-up album is only seven songs long. Two of the songs on the album were previously released as singles: “bon iver” and “ok on your own,” the latter of which is a collaboration between her and pop singer-songwriter, Carly Rae Jepsen.
The first song of the album “bon iver” came out in late July at the same time that she announced an EP would be coming out in October. The song, named after a band by the same name who’s work is typically a bit sad and introspective, introduces the tone of dusk and explores the connection between beginnings and endings.
“A day does not just end when the sun goes down, you continue to find wonder and joy despite the dark, and a whole other world awaits you as the moon glides overhead. New beginnings are not limited to a rising sun, your world is what you make it whenever you choose to begin,” Maia explains via Substream.
While the lyrics do reminisce on the past, they also ponder future possibilities; she balances “holdin’ on to moments” with the knowledge that her life will move on “even when the sun goes down” and she’ll continue to find beauty in the world even during a period of darkness, contradicting the premise of dusk having a sort of unbreakable finality to it.
Continuing with the theme of endings, “ok on your own” conveys Maia’s feelings while confronting the conclusion to a relationship. Even though it feels like the end of something so important should feel emotionally devastating, mxmtoon turns it into an opportunity for growth, acknowledging how much maturity it takes to simply recognize when a relationship is no longer healthy and choosing to end it. In the midst of this monumental change in her life, she takes the time to unravel her complex emotions into a teachable moment for herself that will ultimately improve her as a person.
The final track on the EP “first” expands on the theme of endings. Much like “bon iver,” this song adds a layer of irony to the sense of loss with the title both reminiscing on the beginning of a relationship and what its end might be the beginning of. Just like “ok on your own,” it explores the duality of being able to reflect on the past and also holding hope for the future, thinking of the end of her relationship as “the first of many lessons that [she] will undergo” rather than wallowing in regret.
Mxmtoon’s music has always had a clear tone of sentimentality, but her recent work carries a change in tone that elevates her music and establishes a sense of purpose. Her self-reflection both offers a melancholic tone while also providing an opportunity for hope. She’s at a stage in her life where she can now look back on her past and recognize the importance of the lessons she learned from those experiences.
In a video on Twitter, Maia says she hopes that her work can be “comforting elements to what is otherwise a very chaotic existence.” Overall, the album gives off this comforting, encouraging tone that transports the listener away from whatever they may be dealing with in their life.