A pop music devotee moulding into a very particular and personal type of artist: MUNA are like a Roy Lichtenstein painting, where all elements on display are the epitome of a brand of pop with a community feel, while also staying critical of those who do harm to the planet and risk changing it for the worse.
MUNA are a new frontier of pop that, with their new album Saves the World, mixes in more complex sounds and influences, while sounding more rhythmically punchy with a good dose of EDM involved.
Chuck D. of Public Enemy once talked about how his group would “approach every record like it was a painting,” and indeed, the painting on MUNA’s album is a labyrinth of scenes, characters, and moods. Saves the World is a readapted representation of a confused and frightened world.
Musically, the elements are simple and rooted in easily distinguishable influences. MUNA’s style of pop has a disco aesthetic to it, but songs like “Navy Blue” or “Memento” lose some of their power to make us feel and imagine certain situations, as we saw with the storytelling of their previous album, About U.
The sonic atmospheres that aren’t so full of paranoia and insecurities make the record glossier, more artificial — in short, MUNA creates their disco aesthetic without trying to humanize it too much.
If their previous work was set on capturing moments like returning home from an afterparty with the colours of lights faded in your eyes, Saves the World is modelled on a series of acts and moments of a completely different nature. In essence, the album is probably much more tied to the idea of experiencing the world as a theatre, and as a dance floor that makes room for feelings of melancholy and uncertainty.
The album is grounded in spatialism, using freedom as a banner to carry in a battle between MUNA and a contemporary world that is hard to decipher.
Even with this LP, MUNA imagine one place in a given moment in time. The message is extremely consistent with their mantra, which they expressed back in 2016: “Let us push ourselves to imagine a peaceful America, where no one has to live in fear. Let us continue to build spaces with our humble means that reflect the America of which we dream. Let us keep up the fight.” MUNA think, live and design pop music, trying to establish new effective ways of making it — and surely, their idea of the genre doesn’t exclude a constructive social and political confrontation.
Musically, if this is more based on a simple and pleasant screenplay, the themes MUNA address remain consistent: the L.A. band finds a way to intersect a social malaise that is not only animated, but finds room on the dance floor. The album focuses on production emphasizing synths and drum machines accentuating the rhythms until they swirl in pieces like “Number One Fan”, though perhaps the album would be better off with simpler and more minimal rhythmic lines. Can this kind of record save the world? Or is MUNA’s message simply a provocative one?
review by Gianluigi Marsibilio
September 16 – Wonder Ballroom – Portland, OR
September 17 – Neumos – Seattle, WA
September 20 – Constellation Room – Santa Ana, CA
September 22 – Life Is Beautiful – Las Vegas, NV
September 24 – Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA
September 25 – Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA SOLD OUT
September 26 – Lodge Room – Los Angeles, CA SOLD OUT
September 28 – Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
September 29 – Meow Wolf – Santa Fe, NM
October 1 – Deep Ellum Art Co. – Dallas, TX
October 2 – The Parish – Austin, TX
October 4 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
October 5 – The Masquerade (Purgatory Stage) – Atlanta, GA
October 7 – The Foundry @ The Fillmore Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
October 10 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY
October 11 – Music Hall of Williamsburg – Brooklyn, NY SOLD OUT
October 12 – All Things Go – Washington, DC
October 14 – The Sinclair – Cambridge, MA
October 15 – The Mod Club Theatre – Toronto, ON
October 17 – Logan Square Auditorium – Chicago, IL
October 18 – Fine Line – Minneapolis, MN