Nostalgia for Gen-Z

Maya Hawke’s storytelling skills stretch beyond the big screen


Trinity Whyte, Staff Writer

Rating: 6/10

Maya Hawke is best known for her acting, especially in her role as Robin Buckley in “Stranger Things.” After her first appearance in the Netflix original series, she began releasing music. Her newest album, “MOSS,” released on Sept. 23, is unfortunately incredibly underwhelming.

The album is lyrically sound; Hawke is an excellent storyteller, and her songs reflect that. Many of the songs, however, would be better off as pieces of poetry. In fact, the instrumental parts of many of the songs seem like an afterthought. The execution was somewhat boring, and it seems like Hawke was just trying to fit the music to lyrics she had already written—none of it stuck out as particularly catchy or exciting. 

The complete and utter lack of interesting instrumentals in most of the songs made the album overall sound like elevator music. Much of “Moss” sounds extremely similar, and while it could be construed as an attempt to be cohesive, it instead came off at times as monotonous and repetitive.

The album isn’t entirely bad, though. Of its thirteen tracks, three of them really stood out. “South Elroy,” “Sweet Tooth” and “Thérèse” have a more distinct sound from the rest of the album and have the most interesting lyrics. These are saving graces when listening to the whole album straight through.

 “South Elroy” in particular has a certain charm to it. Its upbeat and bright sound makes it a nice departure from the other somewhat moody songs. Hawke’s storytelling skills really shine in this song, too. Although love and heartbreak are common themes in music, the narrative she created keeps it from feeling like a run-of-the-mill pop song. Additionally, its lyrics fit in with the nostalgic feeling the rest of the album has while still feeling quite hopeful. 

“Sweet Tooth” is very similar to “South Elroy” in that regard. Although Hawke is sharing about an abusive parent figure, the soft and sweet sound makes it feel much lighter and almost soothing. This song tackles growing up in a less-than-ideal home, which many people can relate to but relatively few seem to sing about in indie music. It’s truly a beautiful piece with a lot of emotion behind it and of all of the songs on this album, it feels the most nostalgic.

“Thérèse” is the best song on the album due to both the intriguing sound and the context behind it. The whole song is a reference to the Balthus painting, “Thérèse Dreaming” which was the center of a controversy surrounding its depiction of a young girl in what many consider an age-inappropriate, provocative pose. Many of the lyrics in the song allude to this controversy and its subject, Thérèse. Hawke created her own narrative for her and used the song as an avenue to share what life looks like as a young girl. This commentary on the inappropriate attention many of them face is important to discuss considering both modern women’s issues and the debate over the painting. Hawke delivered on this in a very beautiful, strong way that was pleasing to the ear and deeper in meaning than many of the other pieces on the album.  

The melancholic vibes of most of the songs on this album make it an excellent candidate for a breakup music playlist. Many of them have a very nostalgic energy and soft sound, making it easy to slip into wistful thoughts about one’s own past. The storytelling in the songs also gives the listener a lot of freedom of interpretation; they can bend and mold the lyrics to fit their own life. These attributes make “MOSS” an excellent album to get emotional to, but it lacks in the pizazz necessary for Maya Hawke’s music career to take off. The lyrics and messages are wonderful, but the songs are simply not catchy enough to attract the attention of the busy young adult demographic she seems to target. Perhaps her next album will appeal more to the masses and boost her music career to the next level. 

Until then, fans can find her returning to the big screen in “Do Revenge” and “Maestro.”