Queer alt-pop trio MUNA has created a slick debut that oozes emotion, power, and confidence.
An edgy and extremely cool alt-pop trio, MUNA has already succeeded in creating some astonishingly honest and heartfelt singles over the last two years, but with their debut, About U, they have truly laid themselves – and ourselves – bare as they examine the highs and lows of friendships, love, and relationships to which every listener can relate. With their image and record oozing with political messages and social activism, About U becomes all the more relevant in today’s society. “We don’t want our release to distract people from their activism,” the girls have said on Twitter. “We want it to be a motivation.” This is exactly what it achieves.
Merely two seconds into About U, lead singer Katie Gavin’s sultry and emotive vocals echo through ‘So Special.’ As MUNA materialise confessions and excuses of the poor choices we make in a relationship leading to that inevitable breakup, they quickly shape the themes of their record: love, heartbreak, and a “fuck you” to the people who stand in their way of moving on. The euphoric ‘Loudspeaker’ is exactly that, screaming pop through its complex layers of production – boasting synths, guitars, and drums – to make sure you know it’s not tepid fare from a mediocre, recycled girl band.
On the surface, ‘Loudspeaker’ is a huge party track with strong vocals and a chorus (“If I feel real good tonight I’m gonna put it high on the loudspeaker”) that can resonate with every young adult at heart. It is, however, so much more than this. Guitarist Naomi McPherson told The Guardian that ‘Loudspeaker’ is about the frequency of sexual assault against women. ‘Crying On The Bathroom Floor,’ on Stockholm syndrome, was released on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. (“We’re all entering an abusive relationship with Donald Trump,” they also said in that Guardian piece.) Written originally as a Pride-ready record before the shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, the heartfelt and vivid ‘I Know A Place’ has become somewhat of an anthem for the LGBTQ community, heightening MUNA’s status as a queer pop band with messages that sing further than the pop industry itself.
Slower, mellower tracks like ‘Around U’ and ‘If U Love Me Now’ give the album a more nostalgic feeling that raises questions regarding identity, relationships to others, and the resulting effect on mental strength. What they question in the latter becomes something they comprehend in the former, coming to terms with their own identity and self-worth to reach that moment in the aftermath of a breakup where new-found independence and confidence would result in the belting of ‘Loudspeaker’ instead. With About U, MUNA has created an album that speaks to all with a special resonance for minorities, the LGBTQ community, and those who feel weighed down by the societal pressures of the political instability of today. Combining these themes with those of love, inclusion, and self-esteem, MUNA speak to us all in presenting art as both an outlet and an inlet into your own emotions and sense of self.
About U is out now via RCA