Majken – Dancing Mountains [REVIEW]

Majken‘s debut LP, Dancing Mountains, is a whimsical and nostalgic set of twelve autobiographical songs. The mood that the record conjures mirrors the main themes explored throughout; a trip back in time, reflecting on “vivid dreams, fond memories and restless nights”. What makes the collection even more special is the personal touch. The songs reference specific locations encountered, and people she’s crossed paths with.

Dancing Mountains could have been pulled straight out of the late 60’s, and early 70s, surf-pop and avant-garde movement. Trickles of The Velvet Underground are clearly present, uniquely intertwined with elements of Scandinavian pop. Born in Denmark, the artist currently bases herself in Los Angeles, partially writing this record while spending time in the bustling “blinding lights”. Majken is an artist with many gifts; she’s been actively involved in directing her visuals, and trained and worked extensively as a professional dancer.

Have you ever had an ex suddenly ditch you for another relationship? Majken has too, and she’s got your back. The opening track, Dreaming of Franco, is a sprightly song reminiscing on the good times with a partner, and where the lies and problems first started to surface – “Shots of poison, the illusion of love, killing the sunrise as I ran above”. Its upbeat nature channels Majken’s re-discovery of happiness, and how she can still “live it up” without her former lover.

The accompanying retro-shot styled visual is three glorious minutes of the singer having bags of fun. It is a memorable opener, but my personal favourite appears several songs later. Corner of 69 is a hazy and reflective monologue, evoking exciting sexual encounters with a lover (whether this lover is the aforementioned Franco, or someone new, remains intriguingly unclear). The whole song tilts towards asking them whether she can call them “one more time”.

A handful of the twelve tracks on Dancing Mountains first surfaced on Majken’s EP, Deronda Hotel. These include Dreaming of Franco and Where It All Begins, offering an air of familiarity to listeners who are well accustomed with her output. Other tracks are fresh out of the oven, such as Everything’s Wild, described as the “ideal soundtrack for a summer daydream”. Whilst the core theme and overall sound of the album is constant, each track has its own individual kinks and direction, adding more personality and creativity to her debut record.

The Motown influenced A Little More Time would fit in at an old-school dance. However, with its atmospheric build-up and grand showcase of Majken’s husky, lustrous and sultry vocals, Here and Now could close the curtain on an epic Hollywood movie soundtrack. The album even embraces soft piano on its penultimate track, Feel It All, which was an unexpected but appreciated direction.

Some of the album’s weaker moments are mainly present towards its latter stages, in second half tracks Fainted Love, Madness and You and I. On the whole, they lack memorability and don’t have the stand-out quirks of earlier offerings. The consequence of such a relaxed daydream vibe on an album is the songs, which harbour nothing especially special, merging into one; becoming casual background music. That said, Majken has shown considerable hallmarks of improvement across four years, as the newer material included on the album is comparatively far less mundane.

The first, and only, collaboration is saved until the final fleeting moments of Dancing Mountains. Arguably, the best has indeed been saved until last. The LP’s finale, Dear You, is a duet with French singer Maxime Sokolinski, who was also on-hand to produce the majority of the record. He provides whispered, hollow vocals that harmonise effortlessly and beautifully with Majken’s own. This delightful duet rounds the record off a treat.

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Dancing Mountains takes many twists and turns, from Motown rhythms to breezier indie-pop hooks. Its diversity and willingness to explore sounds has resulted in an above-average debut record. The whole album consistently conjures up summery tracks, with catchy lyrics and familiar structures. It fizzes with hints of the beloved Europop from her homeland, with more modern & Western sounding notes alongside them. There’s not much to improve on but, if Majken shortened the number of tracks and removed the sparse filler present, she’d have an album bordering on perfection. For now, Majken will hopefully bathe in the fruits of success from her classy and interesting debut.

You can listen to Majken’s music over at her Bandcamp. Check out her site and YouTube too, not forgetting her Twitter! Dancing Mountains is set for release on 25th of August. This review was written by Georgia Stephenson, who runs Gigs and Freudian Slips; a site dedicated to spotlighting new, independent music. You can follow Georgia, or her blog, over at Twitter too!

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