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jacobainsworth
27th January 2023

Pop for a Dying Planet: CMAT shares new single Mayday

A deep dive into the latest track, ‘Mayday’, from Irish singer-songwriter and rising star CMAT
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Pop for a Dying Planet: CMAT shares new single Mayday
Photo: Collin Knopp-Schwyn @ Wikimedia Commons

It’s no secret that January is a rubbish month. Chilling temperatures with no festivities to take the edge off, a back-breaking return to working routines, and insufferable gym-based resolutions clogging up your feeds. Well, thank God for CMAT. New single ‘Mayday’, despite its timely climate change anxieties, is a deliciously upbeat gift for all those feeling the January blues.

Following the much-deserved success of last year’s LP If My Wife New I’d Be Dead (which I briefly ramble about here), Irish singer-songwriter Ciara Mary-Alice Thompson, better known as CMAT, enters 2023 with a single that at once draws on all the dazzling strengths of its predecessors, and develops its own stylistic quirks. Rest assured, CMAT’s knack for infectious melodies returns here with a vengeance – ‘Mayday’’s chorus is one of the best pop hooks the artist has crafted to date. It’s an ear-worm that’ll not only crawl into your ears, but also treat them as perfectly hospitable, rotting apples.

 

Drawing on the zany eccentricity of the B-52’s, the vocal playfulness of Kate Bush, and the growling bass tone of early Wombats records, Mayday is musically vibrant, to say the least. The single sees CMAT straying from her trademark country/indie hybrid, opting for a buoyant middle-ground between 80s new wave and good ol’ indie pop.

Seeming to trampoline with a greater elasticity, but still managing to include the pantomime harmonies and self-pitying voice breaks that made her previous performances so enticing, CMAT’s vocals have never sounded so good. It’s a perfect change – not quite Radiohead leaping from OK Computer to Kid A, but not quite The Cure ambling from Faith to Pornography… a triumphant middle-ground that’s bound to appeal to both mainstay audience members, and garner a new string of devotees.

“I saw that Portugal’s on fire, woo-oh
And Mississippi’s underwater too
But all I do M-I-S-S is you
There’s nothing that I can do.”

Lyrically speaking, ‘Mayday’ is clever, punchy and, most of all, resonant. As an avid consumer of the artist’s back catalogue (consisting of bitter-sweet romantic drama, sly innuendo and lonely rambles), I couldn’t say that I expected CMAT’s next single to be based around climate change, but God, it really works. Marrying a shocked cynicism towards the planet’s impending doom – lyrically illustrated by floods and fires – and a close-knit, personal narrative of the agonies of long-distance pining, the record’s lyricism works astoundingly well.

CMAT on ‘Mayday’’s lyrics, via her Instagram:
“I thought the human anxieties of the oncoming climate change disaster are something that are either not spoken about, or spoken about in big, sweeping, dramatic statements. I wanted to bring it back down to something pretty mundane and quite funny. Like the musical equivalent of a Coronation Street episode about fracking.”

My favourite contemporary singer/songwriter kicks off the year with the seemingly impossible: a romantic pop hit surrounded by cartoonish – yet unnervingly believable – apocalypse. The personal and the political blend with sultry effervescence. Overwhelmed by the ensuing environmental destruction and the burning pain of separation, our corset-clad vocalist can do nothing but long to be able to love (and sunbathe) on a planet that’s still somewhat hospitable.

Listen to ‘Mayday’. It’ll get stuck in your head – and will make you want to give your mates a ring before the world rots away. Go, give them a call.

Jacob Ainsworth

Jacob Ainsworth

20, he/him, UoM, Film Studies & English Literature. deputy music editor, writer, musician, illustrator and full-time Jarvis Cocker enthusiast

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