At a glance, MUNA’s self-titled album – their third album and debut on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records – is comprised of 11 tracks of synth-pop joy, a perfect soundtrack for the summer of dreams. of any queer person. Exuberant dance pop mixes with hopeful introspection, allowing the trio’s full range of talents to shine.
However, to discuss this album as a stand-alone work does an injustice to the album’s underlying themes. On their first two albums, the Los Angeles-based trio of Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson openly share how relationships and life’s complexities have left them wary and heartbroken. “MUNA”, on the other hand, shows that the group puts itself first.
Between the release of their second album, “Saves the World”, in 2019 and now, MUNA’s approach to feelings and emotions has completely evolved for the better. The catalyst for this change may have been the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps their former label RCA suddenly dropped the band between albums. Either way, the change that allowed this album to be created is what sets it apart from all of their previous releases.
This growth can best be seen on the string “Kind of Girl”, an ode to self-compassion and learning to take space in your own life. With every line she sings, singer Gavin seems to learn to be kind to herself, despite being aware of her flaws. Gavin sings: “Yeah, I like to tell stories / But I don’t have to write them in ink / I could always change the ending / At least I’m the type of girl / I’m the type of girl who thinks I limp.”
For MUNA, self-awareness has become a tool to learn how to put themselves forward, instead of just being a reminder of all the ways they remain flawed as people. On “Home by Now,” the album’s third single, Gavin reflects on a relationship she ended because she knew it would end up being destructive. However, she cannot escape the questions raised by this choice by singing “Would we have turned a corner if I had waited? / Should I lower my expectations? If we had kept moving in the same direction / Would we already be home? »
On “Anything But Me,” Gavin tells a former lover that she’s ready to be there for them any way she can – from a distance. The song stands out on the album because the maturity required to be ready to be there for an ex-lover while putting yourself first gives listeners something to aspire to.
The closing song, “Shooting Star”, is the perfect way to wrap up the album. With ethereal production and Gavin’s smooth vocals, the song uses shooting stars as a metaphor for staying out of the way of someone who will only burn out. Gavin sings “And that’s what you are, you’re so bright / You burn my eyes and you move too fast / So I say ‘Goodnight, come home’ like I’m making a wish.”
The themes of growth, compassion, and the joy that accompanies them are allowed to shine through through the production of the album, which was done by the members of MUNA. The band’s signature synth-pop takes on a new form on this album, drawing on influences ranging from Americana to Disco.
“What I Want” is a carefree dance pop masterclass. On the track, Gavin sings “I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar” and makes listeners want to join her. “Solid” is a glam rock-inspired summertime anthem about a self-assured person whom Gavin looks up to. The infectious chorus radiates happiness and is easy to sing.
From incredible sound to cathartic lyrics, “MUNA” ushers us into a new era of MUNA. By being open about the difficulties that come with putting themselves forward, the band lets the listener know that it’s okay to struggle while learning to grow. MUNA shows us how they grew as people and in doing so also encourages listeners to find a new version of themselves.