When the sun goes down…
To kick off the month of July, alt-pop artist MOTHICA has released her sophomore album Nocturnal. The album is seventeen tracks long and features collaborations with Polyphia and Au/Ra. Before the album’s release, MOTHICA released a string of five singles from the album (“BEDTIME STORIES,” “BLOOD,” “LAST CIGARETTE,” “SENSITIVE,” “CASUALTY”). This is MOTHICA’s first full-length project since 2020, and with over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, there’s no doubt that this album was highly anticipated.
Focusing on darker themes (hence the title), this album explores several topics relating to MOTHICA’s struggles with mental health that elevate when the sun goes down. She draws you into her world from the first beat of the opening track, “SLEEPWALK,” which has a vintage jazz sound to it. The distortion on the vocals increases the vintage feel, making it sound almost nostalgic.
The opening track is a gentle introduction, but MOTHICA quickly picks up the pace in the following tracks. Following “SLEEPWALK” are a handful of upbeat, dark pop songs, reminiscent of Poppy or Meg Myers. With catchy choruses and thoughtful lyrics, MOTHICA has created a perfect pop concoction.
Sitting at track number five is the first of three sleep interludes, which are each less than sixty-second clips of what sounds like a doctor or therapist speaking over music. While it adds to the concept and theming of the album, this artistic choice ultimately makes the album seem disjointed. These interludes don’t mesh well with the rest of the tracklist and make the album feel bloated. It feels as though 17 tracks was too much. Kudos to MOTHICA for her commitment to the theme & self-expression, it just ultimately didn’t feel like a good choice for this record.
Mixed in with the heavy-hitting pop songs are slow build ballads, such as “R.E.M.” These songs show a more vulnerable, gentle side to MOTHICA. On “R.E.M.” specifically, her vocals are front and center. These songs with scaled-back production give her a chance to shine, showing that she truly has a phenomenal singing voice. Going forward, it would be great to see her lean more into that side of her artistry.
For having such a high number of tracks, MOTHICA does a great job of staying on theme throughout this album. Each song relates to the overall concept of the album. Because there are so many songs though, it can be difficult for any of them to be memorable. As you travel further down the tracklist, the songs sound like they are blending together. There aren’t really any show-stopping moments on this album. For the most part, everything is good, but there is nothing exceptional.
There is no doubt that MOTHICA will continue to create high-concept, well-thought-out projects in the future. Hopefully, she can harness her ideas more and create work that allows her to express herself and keep listeners engaged.