From ‘Dawn’ to ‘Dusk’: mxmtoon shines on new EP

Photo of mxmtoon's album, "Dusk"
AWAL Recordings America/Courtesy

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mxmtoon has come a long way from the ukulele covers she once uploaded to her Youtube channel. The 20-year-old musician from Oakland has quickly become a success, resonating with audiences everywhere through the heartfelt lyrics and ethereal melodies that persist throughout her discography. 

Months after the release of her EP Dawn, mxmtoon dropped Dusk, her latest EP. Put together, each EP represents a distinct part of mxmtoon’s artistry, balancing effervescence with self-reflection. Dusk manages to stand out in this dyad with its pensive lyrics and calming tone, representing both the calamity and contemplation that infiltrate teenage life.

On the EP’s cover alone, mxmtoon trades the golden atmosphere of Dawn for that of a lulling purple with Dusk, inviting listeners to escape to the realm between day and night. The opening chords of the first track, “Bon Iver,” bring forth this calming presence and allude to the beauty that can be found, as the chorus reflects, “even when the sun goes down.” This track is utterly hypnotic with its angelic vocals and mesmerizing lyrics, such as “Playin’ Bon Iver on late night drives/ My window, moon and fireflies.” Setting up an ambiance reminiscent of the heightened feelings that come from fading daylight, “Bon Iver” sets an enchanting precedent for the following six songs.

Of course, mxmtoon stays true to her roots with vibrant ukulele strums in the first couple of tracks, creating a relaxed yet catchy sound that continues in songs such as “OK on Your Own,” which features Carly Rae Jepsen. The duo’s voices complement each other wonderfully and disguise the morose undertones of a breakup with energetic beats that lift the song into hopefulness.

Dusk begins with this upbeat sense of hope but slowly digresses into an incredibly intimate reflection of identity. This EP largely shows mxmtoon at her most personal, specifically with songs such as “Wallflower.” As the title suggests, the track stresses the desire to retreat from the world with the lyrics “I don’t wanna stand out” and “Live my life in a wallflower garden/ With my friends and the fickle hearted.” Backed up by gorgeous instrumentation that guides these poignant lyrics, mxmtoon captures an individual experience that is widely felt among her young audience. It is arguably the strongest song on Dusk and one of the best in mxmtoon’s repertoire given its vulnerability and self-awareness.

And in times riddled with hardship, Dusk perfectly encapsulates feelings of isolation, reassuring listeners that they aren’t alone in struggling to decipher specific emotions and experiences. Another highlight of the EP is “Show and Tell,” a track that brings delicacy to heart-wrenching lyrics that yearn for belonging. It is both comforting and timely given the broader context of the world, as it emphasizes the universal loss of motivation and internal struggle felt among those grappling with hardship. mxmtoon manages to balance these emotionally powerful lyrics with a soothing sound that counteracts any sense of worry or fear; it subdues stress without sacrificing the song’s relatability or purpose.

Though a few songs are reminiscent of one another, the majority of Dusk shows a new side of mxmtoon, one that expresses vulnerability and further emphasizes her genuineness. Each of the seven songs holds its own, distinctly presenting compelling themes that complement her ethereal vibe. 

Together, Dawn and Dusk exemplify mxmtoon’s growth as an artist. Balancing dance-worthy daytime anthems with pensive, self-reflective nighttime soundtracks, mxmtoon finds meaning and hope in each. Dusk brings forth some of mxmtoon’s most contemplative and profound tracks yet, strengthening her as an artist and continuing the relatability she has established with her audience. This EP shows promise for mxmtoon’s future work; it excels in providing comfort for listeners through the exploration of troublesome feelings and supplying hope that everything will be all right.

Contact Sarah Runyan at [email protected].