In more ways than one, Mae Muller’s reputation was established with her participation in this year’s Eurovision. Prior to the competition – in which she placed second to last – the 25-year-old had released two EPs of mid-tempo pop, but there was a disconnect to her individual artistic identity. Her entry track ‘I Wrote A Song’, however, introduced a new era for Muller: with its Dua Lipa-inspired vocal modulation and impeccable, controlled melody, the single made for a high-energy clapback. It was the most assured she had ever sounded, regardless of her eventual competition outcome.
Beyond that career-shifting moment, Muller’s origin story is pretty familiar: as a teenager, the north Londoner pored over records by Lily Allen and Florence + The Machine and uploaded original tracks to Soundcloud, which eventually caught the eye of a management team. But despite her major label push as the next Gen Z star, a drip-feed approach to releasing singles over four years has meant that Muller has never quite had her breakthrough moment; her debut album, ‘Sorry I’m Late’, hopes to rectify that.
- READ MORE: UK Eurovision entry Mae Muller: “I wanted to write something that made people feel empowered”
It’s clear that Muller is working out what her budding, post-Eurovision success means. Across 17 tracks, ‘Sorry I’m Late’ slides between bright, juvenile melodies (‘Sorry Daniel’, ‘Little Bit Sad’) and ballads with sanitised production (‘Miss America’) – the album’s execution is largely slick and safe. Presumably, the inclusion of ‘Better Days’, a team-up with Polo G and NEIKED which hit the Top 25 of the Billboard 200 in 2021, is solely to benefit this record’s presence on the algorithm in coming weeks. Sandwiched between Muller’s newer, electro-leaning material, it feels like a complete outlier, meaning that there’s also a cohesion missing here.
‘Sorry I’m Late’ is a lot more fun when it stops trying so hard to prove itself. Buoyed by classic house piano, ‘I Just Came To Dance’ digs deep into the idea that an all-night disco can soothe even the most soul-damaging of breakups, before ‘Me, Myself & l’ sees her adopt a big sister-like role to dish out some relationship advice. You could imagine the swooping and dramatic ‘Written By A Woman’, meanwhile, working as a jaw-dropping Lip Sync For Your Life song in an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Moments like these suggest that there’s a gripping album in ‘Sorry I’m Late’ beneath all the layers of gloss that dominate elsewhere. Yet being that Muller is trying to stand out among the current glut of young UK pop artists ploughing vaguely empowering anthems – Mimi Webb, Maisie Peters, Bellah Mae – it’s not clear what distinguishes her from the crowd.
- Release date: September 29
- Record label: Capitol Records
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