MUNA About U Album Review

“About U” is the debut LP of the Electronic Pop trio MUNA. With a sound that incorporates meaningful pop vocals, trippy electric guitar fills, electronic down-tempo beats and amazing harmonies overloaded with soul and power, MUNA might have just found the formula for what might be one of the most complete pop albums of 2017. The trio was born in Los Angeles, and is formed by: Katie Gavin (main vocals), Josette Maskin, (guitars and harmonies), and Naomi Mcpherson (guitars and harmonies). They met at the University of Southern California and after discovering their mutual love for music they decided to start working together as a trio in 2013. They released “More Perfect,” their first EP in 2014, followed by their second EP “Loudspeaker” in 2016. However, it was not until this year that they released their first complete album “About U.”

 The album is an adventure to listen to; from the very beginning to the end, and evokes feelings on the listeners that would not normally be evident by listening to any other pop album. The first song on the record “So Special” is a down-tempo/synth driven theme with a catchy chorus “Guess I'm gonna find another ride/ Guess I'll see you in another life/ Guess I'm gonna tell one more lie/ I'm surprised you don't wanna stay by my side.” The song itself is, as described by the band members: “an anthem for the slut-shamed girls of the world who have to assert their own value." The whole song has a very symmetrical beat that helps listeners get into it, but without setting aside the true value of the meaningful lyrics.

The second song in the album is titled “Loudspeaker” and talks about dysfunctional relationships. The song starts with a funky guitar chord progression driven by the beat, and a few seconds after the lyrics kick in. The most touching part of the song is at the end of the second verse: “You can try to make me stop/ call it delusion/ But every time I don't shut up/ it's revolution.” The third song, “I Know a Place,” Is a perfect depiction of a pop anthem, with full harmonies in the choruses and reverb-filled vocals that just make you want to sing along with the track. “Winterbreak” the fourth track in the record talks about a lost relationship, about that moment where you want to pick up all the ashes of a burnt out love, knowing at the end that it is futile, you still want to “always have one more try.”

The fifth song in the album, “Around U”, follows the same theme of failed love and unsuccessful relationships. With an anthem-like chorus and dreamy soundscapes, it keeps the listeners from being drowned by the sad reality of the lyrics. Instead it makes you want to tap your feet to the beat of the song, as it ends with a sampled click of a mechanical clock, harmonized by delays and reverbs. This is also the longest track in the record, being 5 minutes and 13 seconds long. It is followed by “After,” a powerful pop/rock song about those moments right after a “one night stand.” The beautiful harmonies of the song lay on top of a bed of strong, distorted guitar chords embellished by synths, with lyrics metrically shorter than previous songs in the album.

“Promise” is the track number 7 in the album, and it deals with the issue of struggling trying to separate passion from real love. In an interview with the group, they said the following: “We see ‘Promise’ lyrically as a track about misconstruing expressions of passion as authentic expressions of love.” Also revealing that the song is a personal reflection of the main singer and her temper in relationships. The eighth track on the LP “If U Love Me Now,” differs a lot from the previous tracks in the sense that it is more of an “electronic ballad”. It deals with themes between the shades of depression, failure in love, and ultimately, suicide making it the darkest song on the whole album. We reach the album’s single “Crying on the Bathroom Floor”, a more up-tempo song that deals with the problems of an abusive relationship. This song explicitly discusses the dependency that develops in unhealthy relationships and the inability to quit.

The tenth song on the record “End of Desire” goes back to the theme of one-night stands, but from a different approach. This time, talking about the desire to go home with the person thinking there might be something more, deep down knowing that is not true. It differentiates itself also because is the only song in the album with a distinctive trance-like beat instead of the low-tempo beats previously presented. The following song, “Everything” deals with breakups, and how to get over someone when you are still in that period where: “Everything's about you to me (it's about you to me),” and it might be the most pop-oriented song in the record due to its instrumentation, form, and harmony. The last track on the record “Outro” is a beautiful two verse song that presents us with distorted and synthesized vocal harmonies as well as trippy samples, and lyrics that give perfect closure to an album that deals with so many emotions. The song ends with a great guitar solo harmonized by the vocals as it fades out.

MUNA certainly captured the voice of a generation with this album, and with the current state of pop music, I believe the band went to an adventurous place with their LP and they succeeded to stand tall and share their message to the public in the best way possible. This album is certainly here to stay for the rest of the year

-Manuel Robles

 

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