Maude Latour continues to cement herself as a fearless forager into the realm of emotions felt yet rarely verbalized with her latest EP, 001 (2022).
Most famous for the euphoric “One More Weekend” which has amassed over 31 million streams on Spotify, Latour is one of the freshest faces in the pop scene right now with her psychedelic aesthetic and distinct vocals and lyrical style.
In addition to being an up-and-coming pop star, Latour is a recent Columbia University graduate. Evidence of her philosophy degree is littered throughout her lyrics, many of which see her lost in reverie about both the secrets of the universe and those residing within herself. Her poignant-yet-playful style is on full display on 001 as she embarks upon a quest of introspection over a backdrop of effortlessly catchy technicolor instrumentation.
While Latour’s journey of self-discovery is largely characterized by uncertainty, there is one facet of her identity of which she is certain: she is a dreamer. “Headphones” is a metallic, silver-tongued track which perfectly embodies this quality. Here, Latour enthusiastically babbles about her aspirations to make the music she loves and to share that music with others with an alluring charisma few artists can claim to share. Her persistence in the pursuit of her ambitions comes with an unapologetic confidence that never tips the scale into cockiness. The flagrant use of autotune in the chorus juxtaposes the authenticity of her lyrics in a supremely interesting way, solidifying “Headphones” as an unskippable moment from the EP.
Boasting one of the smoothest and most idiosyncratic choruses of the year, the vulnerable yet empowered “Lola” is the emotional center around which all other songs on 001 orbit. A celebration of love in all forms, this magnetic magenta track wears its heart on its sleeve, and we are all the better for it. Unlike many ballads of longing, Latour’s “Lola” sets itself apart by identifying her love not as a debilitating weakness, but rather as something re-energizing. On 2021’s “Walk Backwards,” Latour highlights her difficulty in “understand[ing] the line between love and romance,” but here, Latour is impassioned in her argument that love does not need to be easily defined in order to be mutually understood. This motif of “Lola,” both the song and the individual, being the heart of the EP is conveyed sonically as well, with a guiding drumbeat mimicking a steady pulse during the verses before transforming into a pounding heartbeat like someone on the verge of confession during the bridge.
The next two songs see Latour leaning into a more existential yet effervescent groove. “Trees” is the perfect anthem for anyone who loves looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Latour’s endearing enthusiasm towards finding beauty in the little things in life, combined with the bubbly synths and echoey background vocals, cannot help but bring a smile to the listener’s face. Latour continues to romanticize life’s joyful moments in the nostalgic yet forward-facing “Probabilities.” This song is a lightning bolt, complete with electrified instrumentals and a striking, youthful energy to match. The deep, buzzing bass that sizzles beneath the second verse is a particular stand out. In addition to being an absolute bop, her choice to describe the feeling of being lovestruck as “wave function collapse” is a clever touch that brings together the emotional and intellectual.
“Living It” slows down the pace without losing any steam. If the last two tracks were dreamlike, “Living It” sees Latour pinching herself and coming back down to earth, recognizing that she is on the verge of losing someone special in her life. The simplicity of this grounding track’s waltzing percussion allows Latour’s voice to really shine, especially emphasizing her enchanting Lorde-esque lower register.
In an EP jam-packed with stand-out moments, the very best song comes in at the very end with “Cyclone.” Danceable and deeply emotive all in one fell swoop, “Cyclone” manages to perfectly put into words the often overlooked hardships of going through a friend breakup. While not necessarily the most comprehensive line, the lyric “miss you like a hurricane, spinning cyclone,” expresses Latour’s unfiltered, anxious uncertainty. The heart-sinking line is instantly felt if you allow yourself the freedom to not overthink it. Throughout the EP, Latour undergoes a journey of self-discovery, and in “Cyclone” Latour has an “aha!” moment in the eye of the storm: in order to fully be herself, she must surround herself with the people who already see her and love her just as she is. Furthermore, despite Latour singing about losing control of a relationship after a falling out, her voice is more controlled here than on any other track on the project, floating across the pre-chorus with a delightful cadence.
Considering 001 ends on such a strong note, it is a shame that the EP opens with a shaky start. The title track “001” is by no means a bad song. In fact, seeing Latour dip her toe into a darker tonality reminiscent of something off of Billie Eilish’s debut album is a welcome deviation from her typical form. However, the choice to make both the opener and the titular track a song which is so intrinsically dissimilar from the rest of the tracklist misleads the listener from the get-go in an unfortunate way. This choice is especially disappointing considering “Headphones” is a song screaming to be placed at the forefront of a project like this, both in terms of its seamless thematic alignment with the rest of the tracklist and its delightfully dreamy beginning, complete with a harp signaling the heaven-sent collection of melodies to come. In short, “001” definitely deserved to be released, but, ironically, has no place on 001.
Though the track “001” was an explorative effort that does not quite land, at least Latour’s short-coming can be attributed to a misgrouping rather than actually producing lackluster material. Additionally, her willingness to chase creativity, take risks, and come up short rather than become content with producing repetitive and mediocre material is commendable. In the midst of an indie-pop singer-songwriter genre that is becoming increasingly oversaturated and unoriginal, Latour offers an iridescent counterexample to the notion that pop music is in a state of dormancy. By making music that is satisfying to her soul, rather than something performatively people-pleasing that is destined to have a short shelf-life, Latour continues to push the envelope again and again, making her a refreshing new voice in the genre.
In spite of 001’s imperfections, Maude Latour’s quest to answer the questions humming in the back of her brain through her music never fails to mesmerize her listeners. The heart and honesty that she brings to the table as an artist are sure to propel her forward in the industry. To use her words, “I can tell the future’s bright,” and this is only the beginning.