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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Observer

Maude Latour captures life and love for the college generation and beyond


Have you ever heard a song and immediately thought to yourself, “I’m going to listen to this at least 10 times in a row, right now?”

Maude Latour did that for me just two weeks ago. I actually first heard the song — Latour’s single “Block Your Number” — when it came on a Spotify playlist my dear friend, and Observer assistant managing editor, Maeve Filbin had made. Though I wasn’t listening closely, the vibes reminded me of Lorde (missing her) and I saved the song so I could revisit it later. The next day, I slipped in my earbuds, readied myself for a freezing walk to class and hit shuffle on my most recent playlist. When “Block Your Number” came on, from the beginning whisper declaring “It’s always best at the beginning,” I was entranced. 

By the time the beat dropped at before the first chorus, I found myself involuntarily reaching into my pocket to blast the song at full volume, caught in that rare, glimmering experience of not wanting to miss a single second. And then I played it again, and again, and again, until I regrettably reached DeBart. Somewhere in the euphoric pop instrumentals and confessional lyrics, it felt like Latour was talking directly to me. 

Later that day, I ventured to Latour’s Spotify profile to immediately listen to everything else she’s ever released. Her whole body of work on Spotify is just 10 songs — four singles and a six-song EP, “Starsick.” Her entire collection is just enough to fill the 10 spots under “popular” selections, and totals only 30 minutes on a playlist. But in that small body of work, she boasts millions of streams and shows an immense emotional range and impressive songwriting skills. The English major in me appreciates how Latour’s songs often read like short stories — in “Furniture,” she declares “I heard what you told Emma,” not bothering to explain who Emma is or what someone told her. It doesn’t matter; her story is about more than the details. It’s about the experience of wondering, and of a friend letting you in on a secret, even if you don’t get every bit of the story.

In addition to her music career, Latour is also a full time college student, a junior at Columbia to be exact. But rather than shying away from the college experience, she embraces and addresses it in her music. In “Block Your Number,” she sings poignantly about seeing her ex-boyfriend “with your backpack on, baby” and crying “alone in [her] dorm room.” Including these details of a uniquely college experience only strengthens her storytelling prowess. Similarly, Latour’s way with words allows her to describe a specific feeling in a way that feels universal to a whole generation. In “One More Weekend,” she declares, “I fell in love with how you emphasized your sentences / Got a crush on the shape of your name in my phone.” This is all to say that, while my first exposure to Latour’s music reminded me of Lorde, and she has the emotional honesty of Taylor Swift, and she’s named Clairo and Lana Del Ray as her influences, she embodies something new and all her own — and she does it all her way, one that is unapologetically Gen-Z. 

With just over 77,000 followers, Latour has found success on TikTok — @maudelstatus, like all her other social media platforms. She uses the platform to promote her music, sharing backstories from her rawest, emotional lyrics and being her own hypewoman, along with her friends and roommates. Just recently, she did a question-and-answer on her Instagram story, actively polling her followers for whether she should sign with a label or continue to produce her work independently, like she’s been doing up until this point. Her approach to social media, similar to her songwriting, lays it all out on the line, proving she is an artist of a new generation, one who’s open to being vulnerable on the Internet. 

Last Friday, just two days before Valentine’s Day, Latour released “Walk Backwards,” her latest single. Latour, who identifies as bisexual, said her friendships “blur the line between romance and platonic love.”

“I think we place too much emphasis on romantic relationships,” she said in the closed captions of another video. “I’m sick of love songs so… I wrote this song about my best friends.” 

“Walk Backwards” both feels like a natural next step and also a departure from Latour’s prior works on “Starsick” and the singles, a commitment to her signature, openhearted style that expands to a wider focus than just romance. If we’re sharing here, Latour’s gratitude for platonic love in the absence of romance shows a maturity that I personally have been struggling to develop for a while, and one that I admire. 

At this precarious moment, Latour’s music career appears to be on the brink of exploding. I’m anxiously waiting to see what’s next for her — an album? A tour? Signing with a record label? Whatever it is, she’s is going to do it her own way. 

Until then, I’ll keep replaying her songs over and over again.