In her new single, Mörmaid creates a delicate, intimate environment, where her delicate vocals are at the centre of a shifting world of silky synths. Do these whispers bring something fresh – or are they sweet nothings?
Over the last half-decade or so, several artists have challenged the overbearing brashness with which much electronic pop has conducted itself – almost entirely parallel to the development of “hyperpop”, artists such as LUMP and Jenny Hval have focused on using soft, subtle soundscapes, and equally delicate vocal stylings, to convey surprisingly powerful and sometimes incisive lyrics that focus upon selfhood, love, and trauma. Mörmaid is the latest figure to emerge within this canon with ‘We Love We Dive’, a six-minute love song with subtle songcraft that breaks further from the rock and pop tradition than her peers.
‘We Love We Dive’ begins with Mörmaid’s vocals taking centre stage, introducing us to the thread that maintains the song’s structure. It’s an arresting beginning; while she is certainly not the first to take this approach, introducing the work in relative silence is a move that contradicts much of pop-music convention, in an age of catchy hooks, punchy rhythms, and instant gratification. Following this, Mörmaid at first employs something resembling a verse-chorus dichotomy. Hypnotic, oscillating patterns lull the audience into a false sense of serenity, broken by sparser, but bass-heavy, verses that feel heavier thanks to the contrast. After a quieter section that leads into a weighty near-silence, the earlier dialectic is synthesised into a cohesive whole, avoiding more traditional, melodic songwriting in favour of a textural, layered catharsis.
‘We Love We Dive’s structure is compelling, but its sparse nature creates a sense of detachment – it feels at once as if the listener is being embraced, and held at arms’ length; in this sense, it is a love song that captures the push and pull of modern intimacy. The use of reduced instrumentation in some passages enhances the lusher, busier sections, making them feel warmer, and means that Mörmaid can accomplish in a delicate manner what many artists cannot achieve with a weightier sound. However, this persistently ethereal nature does make it a difficult song to connect with – like the undine on the single’s cover, and indeed romance in the internet age, ‘We Love We Dive’ is as slippery as it is beautiful.
Overall, ‘We Love We Dive’ is a strong statement piece that gives credence to a new voice within electronic pop canon. While possessing some clear stylistic influences from her genre contemporaries, Mörmaid is set apart from her murmuring peers by her less immediate approach to sound and composition, which conjures both the intimacy and distance of love.
Toyah Jane Stoker (she / her)
Image credits: https://www.traxsource.com/title/1863425/we-love-we-dive