MUNA’s fists-raised power pop is proud, drawing from 80’s icons like Heart and Pat Benatar as well as more modern artists like Twin Shadow and Robyn. They exploded onto the scene when supporting Harry Styles on tour in 2017, but it was their first album that brought them into the public lens (and caught Harry’s attention in the first place).
An unabashedly queer band, many of MUNA’s songs deal directly with the experience of feeling different or unwelcome, but triumphing over those struggles, stronger than ever. “I Know A Place” is a prime example, with the lyrics celebrating LGBTQ-friendly bars, nightclubs, and discos as safe havens after “somebody hurt you”. The production only adds to this feeling: darkened synths and the croon of singer Katie Gavin eventually bursting into the anthemic, sparkling chorus. Elsewhere on “Around U”, the band provides a break-up ballad worthy of weeping softly on the dancefloor. One of the most powerful songs on the album, “Crying On The Bathroom Floor”, confronts traumatic bonding – the phenomenon of the abused forming strong connections with their abusers – put in the context of both abusive romantic relationships as well as society and minority groups at large. There are touches of Lana Del Rey and Lady Gaga, but MUNA’s success comes from their authenticity. They’re making pop, but it’s the kind of pop that connects an entire subset of people instead of attempting to pander to everyone.
Rumors abound about a follow-up record in 2019. And while nothing is confirmed, there’s plenty of synth-pop goodness to go through here, whether you’re under a disco ball in a massive crowd or listening in the dark of your own room.