MUNA | Under The Radar Magazine

MUNA

MUNA

Saddest Factory

Jun 24, 2022
Web Exclusive

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On “Number One Fan,” the lead single to MUNA’s 2019 album, Saves the World, lead vocalist and songwriter Katie Gavin sings, “So I heard the bad news/Nobody likes me and I’m gonna die alone/In my bedroom.” It’s a track about dealing with one’s destructive inner thoughts and learning self-love. The rest of the album is just as personal, capturing both the pain and euphoria that embody the experience of what it means to be queer in the world today. This openness resonated with fans and new listeners alike and garnered critical acclaim.

However, while MUNA was in the process of making their self-titled album, RCA Records dropped them, putting the project in jeopardy. This setback almost came as a blessing for the band as they now had more creative freedom and found a new home at Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records. The result is a collection of the poppiest songs the group has ever made. With bright synths and more prominent guitars, MUNA is a more upbeat affair.

Take “Silk Chiffon,” the album’s lead single featuring Bridgers. It sounds like music from a ’00s rom-com with the nostalgic imagery of cherry lipstick, rollerblades, and silk dresses. The next track, “What I Want,” is an empowering anthem about allowing oneself to be self-indulgent—in this instance, letting loose and dancing at a gay bar.

However, the band doesn’t forget its melancholy roots. Despite its catchy hook, the lyrics in “Home By Now” imagine someone not knowing whether they left a relationship they were meant to be in. Interestingly, this idea contrasts with “Anything But Me,” a track about leaving a relationship before it turns sour. The heart of the record may be in “Kind of Girl,” a country song with the lyrics, “Go out and meet somebody/Who actually likes me for me/And this time I’ll let them.” It reveals a desire for self-acceptance and being comfortable with receiving love.

Although the songwriting is intimate with the trio’s personal thoughts and feelings, the production and vocal choices sometimes are found lacking. “Handle Me” is directionless as it meanders with no meaningful sonic progression. The Auto-Tune added to the vocals in “No Idea” doesn’t work, and the strings in “Loose Garment” are an awkward fit over the bass. However, there are also times where the vocals and production flow together seamlessly. “Home By Now” is the best tune here with the synths maintaining momentum throughout the song. Likewise, the production in “Anything But Me” accentuates the vocal performance by knowing when to back off or come to the forefront.
On their third release, MUNA maintain the same endearing intimacy and vulnerability as their previous records. It feels as if the group has grown from the introspective and therapeutic Save the World and is grasping onto ideas of self-worth that exist within their songs. In a world that is oppressive towards so many in queer communities, this album does something radical—it finds something to celebrate. (www.whereismuna.com)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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