In May, mxmtoon released her new album rising into the world, a collection of songs that argue growth is always evolving. The album has been streamed more than 20 million times since then and received critical acclaim including Song Exploder’s deep dive into “mona lisa’, and showed the singer-songwriter-producer-podcaster and social activist reaching new heights creatively.
Recently, mxmtoon dropped a deluxe version of rising.
“rising is everything i love packaged into a project, and what better way to expand and build upon that than by releasing deluxe tracks to go with the original twelve. I know that my sense of who I am is ever evolving, and I hope to get that idea across to the people that listen to my music as often as I can. Both tracks being added serve the function of building on more to the story of me. “Kaleidoscope” being about the wildly vast facets of self that we as people can inhabit, and “plastic pony” covering the realization that life can sometimes slip through our fingers. both lend themselves to the narrative rising tells, while leaving the next chapter of mxmtoon open for exploration! enjoy xo.”
rising (the deluxe) features two new songs “plastic pony” as well as a new single
“I don't think it’s any secret that societal expectations of women are limiting, one- dimensional, and completely absurd. I grew up in a family that encouraged my creativity and individuality, but that didn’t shelter me completely from the sexism of the outer world. As I've grown up, I've had time to reflect on my journey so far and the identities I've held throughout it. Being a woman is something I feel immensely proud of, but it’s also something that the world at large has relentlessly held against me and so many others. women are a diverse and beautiful group of people who embody perseverance and bravery, and i wanted to honor that with “kaleidoscope.” I have bent my being until I'm broken for the sake of fitting a mold set for me by others, and I know I'm not the only one. my hope is that this song can embody the softness, strength, fierceness, and ever-expanding nature of what it means to be a woman and celebrates us!”
Though wrought as always from personal experience, mxmtoon extends these glittering and moody tunes — the impatiently waiting jangle of “mona lisa,” the frustrated but persevering electro funk of “scales,” the incandescent and unforgettable bounce of “dance (end of the world)” — as acts of communal solidarity. Maia knows this has all been hard, so she wants to sing it out, together.
In late 2019, Maia had just finished her first full tour as mxmtoon, and she felt inspired by the prospects of her career and life to come — two new EPs in the making, more shows, a planned move to join her brother in New York. But as the pandemic took hold, she returned to her parents’ home, working to return to her old writing habits in that guest bedroom-turned- makeshift studio. She felt stuck, however, so suspended in time and place she barely wrote anything at all during 2020. What’s more, she lost a cherished grandfather to leukemia, rushing to see him one last time in Florida, and then a beloved grandmother. That’s to say nothing of elections and protests, nationalist revanchism and bigoted violence, enough to beleaguer or age anyone.
Much of rising unfurls from that same premise — mxmtoon’s hallmarked vulnerability buttressed by a newfound musical effervescence and might. These are the songs, as Maia puts it, that she wished existed when she struggled as a teen. They are instruction manuals for surviving, written for young people looking for themselves, but coded as magnetic pop.
“growing pains” asks thorny questions about whether we actually improve as we age (or if that’s just what we tell ourselves to feel better) above guitars that shimmer like a sunrise and drums that lift off like rockets.
“dance (end of the world)” acknowledges the apocalyptic tenor of our times but finds at least 150 seconds of Gloria Gaynor-style salvation in holding someone (yourself included) close and just moving.
“learning to love you” reckons with the exhausting demands of our breathless interconnectedness and funnels the dizziness into a pop sunshower, its namesake chorus rendered as a gleeful collective credo.
“frown” gets absolutely funky with absolute existential despair, a pressure-relief valve for the beset mind. Everything here doesn’t revel in musical refulgence, though.
As Maia relates the story of visiting her dying grandfather during “florida,” she remains under cover of chiming acoustic guitars and cascading cymbal washes, a choice that highlights the writing’s poignant intimacy.
Laced with arcing strings and textural harmonies, the exquisite “dizzy” captures the vertigo of someone who has spent four years in the public eye but, more broadly, anyone who thinks too much about the perception of online strangers. These more mellow moments betray the depth of their peppy counterparts and the breadth of experience that Maia, now 21, frontloads into mxmtoon.
For Maia, rising represents the culmination of an unintended trilogy that also includes dawn and dusk, the dual EPs she released in 2020. It’s true that rising continues their era of rapid musical growth for mxmtoon. But these dozen songs are the definitive steps forward for mxmtoon, because they are just as ingenious.
‘Rising’ Deluxe Tracklisting
1. mona lisa
2. learn to love you
3. victim of nostalgia
4. sad disco
8. growing pains
11. dance (end of the world)
12. coming of age
13. plastic pony