Over the last year, a myriad of artists have attempted to create the latest post-pandemic party anthem, a soundtrack for the celebrations of summer 2022. With a track list full of danceable tunes, MUNA’s self-titled album, released June 24, certainly rises to the occasion.
Made up of three friends who started making music together at the University of Southern California, MUNA has long outlasted its college inception. With Katie Gavin on vocals and Josette Maskin and Naomi McPherson on guitar, the band has mastered an unapologetically queer sound, gleefully recounting experiences unique to the artists and their fans. On its third studio album, MUNA takes the reins of artistic freedom while still remaining true to its signature sound.
Though MUNA was dropped by its old label RCA during the pandemic, the band shows no signs of being in decline. Rather, MUNA’s partnership with Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records has given it even more exposure, elevating its popularity among queer musicians and fans.
Throughout its run, MUNA remains consistent with the quality of its songs; all are worthy of standing on their own. The most well-known song may be “Silk Chiffon,” a delightful celebration of queer joy with a standout feature from Bridgers, but the album in no way ends there.
Energetic party anthem “What I Want” and its accompanying music video are especially refreshing, jubilant as they center on the experience of being attracted to women. While sonically similar to “Number One Fan” from Saves the World, the lyricism has matured greatly — Gavin, Maskin and McPherson seem much more empowered to become the subjects of their own music. Through and through, “What I Want” exemplifies how much fun MUNA has making music together. Acting as outlandish celebrities in the music video, the band members appears to be having the time of their lives.
Among other songs, “No Idea” and “Home By Now” stand out toward the middle of the album, iridescent with their earworm melodies. Upon first listen, these upbeat tracks begin to blend into one another, demonstrating little variety when played back to back. However, this also serves as a testament to the strength of MUNA’s style: the musicians have found a sound that consistently works for them.
While MUNA is primarily known for its more lively and optimistic tracks, the band approaches its emotional ballads with incredible focus, producing songs that are equal parts poignant and catchy. “Kind of Girl,” which MUNA debuted while opening for Kacey Musgraves earlier this year, is especially intriguing. While many emotional ballads center on the loss of love, this song preaches self-love and the desire to wait for someone who will treat them the way they deserve to be treated. “Go out and meet somebody/ who actually likes me for me/ and this time I’ll let them,” Gavin sings, showing that she won’t let love change her or her want to be loved unconditionally — a message that especially resonates with MUNA’s 20-something fanbase.
As a closer, “Shooting Star” works masterfully, as Gavin sings about letting someone go to admire them from afar. As many of the album’s themes center on growing up and learning to love oneself, MUNA does not cower away from emotional depth, striking a perfect balance between joy and vulnerability.
With its third studio album under its belt, MUNA still has much more to give musically. Producing an array of danceable, unapologetically queer hits, the band glimmers with nothing but promise.