The trio’s third album, bursting with joyful, affirming pop, is their biggest and best so far
MUNA don’t do small songs. The trio have always specialised in energetic, larger-than-life pop that embraces young womanhood and young queerness with all its stumbling blocks. In their self-titled third studio album, they have the pedal to the metal from the off. Lead single ‘Silk Chiffon’ kicks things off. Soapy, fluffy, relentlessly endearing and just good fun, it’s been hinting at an excellent album since its release in 2021. “Life’s so fun, life’s so fun/Got my mini skirt and my rollerblades on,” trills Katie Gavin over a laidback drum track and a cheerful guitar. It’s a lyric that introduces us to the tone of the entire album – fun, adventurous, sexy, and a little chaotic.
Youth and lust are all over the record, and with both comes self-advocacy. ‘What I Want’, an 80s meets 00s disco track that follows on from the album’s opener, describes a perfect night out full of drinking, dancing and picking up girls. Gavin is explicit in what she’s looking for. Later in the album, the band dedicates two tracks to a request for less gentle sex. ‘Handle Me’ is delicately seductive and sweetly composed; ‘No Idea’ is up-tempo, dramatic and intense. Both communicate desire clearly. In ‘Anything But Me’, MUNA lay out clear instructions for an ex: “You can call me if there’s anything you need/Anything but me.” The self-assurance expressed in the album’s tone of voice extends to a confidence in the identity of the record. MUNA are young, they are sexually active, and they will only be both of those things for so long – there’s no point in beating around the bush.
That’s not to say that the album shies away from the messier parts of young womanhood, or that MUNA are afraid to express any kind of self-doubt. In ‘Kind of Girl’, they acknowledge the more challenging facets of themselves. In ‘Loose Garment’, a brilliant twin to ‘Silk Chiffon’, they discuss an unshakeable sadness which can’t be escaped by thinking critically about it. Even as Gavin runs through her list of demands in ‘What I Want’ there’s some vulnerability – all she’s really after is a connection.
However, this messiness is also celebrated, and there’s beauty in being unfinished. “I’m not some kind of minor trope who’s never gonna change, that’s so derivative,” sings Gavin in ‘Kind of Girl’. An entire track, ‘Solid’, is dedicated to the fact that ‘my baby’ is a three-dimensional person rather than an idea, something the trio evidently find very attractive. It’s a refreshingly cheeky take on the muse figure, acknowledging that what’s hottest about this girl is that she exists far beyond the art made about her hotness. MUNA are keen to emphasise that young women can be many things at once.
There’s so much joy in the expression of this and the production throughout the album does a wonderful job of underpinning it. From the electric guitar that introduces Phoebe Bridger’s in ‘Silk Chiffon’ as she opens with “I’m high and I’m feeling anxious”, to the tense, galloping drum track and pulsing synth in ‘Runner’s High’ that explodes into a loaded, heavy post-chorus instrumental, the record is loaded with thoughtful musicality and playful choices. All this builds to a show-stopping crescendo in the last minute of ‘Shooting Star’ that serves as a fittingly cathartic finale. Yes, a self-titled record three albums in may feel like an unusual choice, but if their two previous records were a warmup then this is truly where MUNA’s reign begins.
Muna will be heading out on a UK tour this November. Get tickets here.