Chinese-American singer mxmtoon succeeds in her first, self-released album, the masquerade, comprising 10 songs followed by 10 in acoustic format.
The 19-year-old Oakland native — who has yet to reveal her full name but also goes by Maia — and ukulele player became a YouTube sensation after releasing her extended play album, plum blossom, a year ago.
Her stage name and album and song titles remind poetry aficionados of e.e. cummings, known for his preference of all words in lower case form.
Though she told Flood Magazine in an article last month that she identifies as bisexual, mxmtoon captures listeners’ attention the most in her second song off the September 2019-released album.
Titled “prom dress,” the lyrics reportedly come from her own experience dealing with the traditional junior or senior year event. Near the beginning, she sings, “I guess I thought that the prom was gonna be fun / But now I’m sitting on the floor and all I wanna do is run.”
Her repeating those lines two more times throughout the piece effectively reminds teen listeners of their own social anxiety and the potential for shattered expectations of going to a prom dance.
The three minutes and 17-second tune, which has also been released as a music video, opens with pipe organ keys to create a somber mood followed by strums from a ukulele and rhythmic claps and finger snapping in the background. Such a musical composition keeps the song catchy and steady enough to be considered a medium-paced song.
And even though prom is still quite some time away, “prom dress” offers such a nostalgic tinge that it’s sure to remain on several people’s playlist.
At just over two and a half minutes long, the seventh track begins with a single guitar strum. Called “seasonal depression,” Maia touches on the times when she is unmotivated to face the day even with “loads of coffee” in her cup.
But rather than dwell on feeling down, the singer eases listeners’ apprehension by telling us how she will “sit outside / to bask in my tiny bit of light / to warm the cold that I feel inside.”
Though the genre of her songs fall in the indie-pop category, she sets herself apart from artists like Lauv in that she focuses on helping others instead of just reflecting on herself and her life problems.
Finally, midway through her tracks comes the perfect post-breakup song, “high and dry.” At three minutes and 39 seconds, it starts with a less subtle tone than the other songs on this album. Stepping away from the contrasting beat count and soft voice, mxmtoon has her voice rise and quicken as she describes a past toxic relationship.
Now in the fifth of the seven stages of getting over a breakup — the acceptance stage — Maia opens with “throwing empty threats / across at me and passing and I thought / that you had grown on up.” Her tone of voice throughout the song is confident and has little to no traces of heartbreak, which is what makes this song the perfect post-breakup song.
Maia has proven herself as a truly real artist who will hopefully continue to share her experiences through music. According to a press statement, she explains that the title of her album relates to how she has recorded these songs to “share them with a community of people who maybe also needed to put up a facade to get through the day.”
This Northern California musician has successfully reached out to these folks who will undoubtedly look forward to what mxmtoon has to offer in her next album.