Text Paul van der Zalm

There’s nothing like mutual love. You are in the clouds and you seem to float. With ‘(She’s so soft like) Silk Chiffon’, the catchy opening track of MUNA’s third album, this trio from Los Angeles manages to convey that feeling perfectly. The song – which musically comes close to the previously discussed Hatchie – was a big hit last year and the harbinger of the album that will be released today on Saddest Factory Records, the label of Phoebe Bridgers.

Bridgers also makes a vocal contribution and can be seen in the accompanying music video, which is a nod to the rom-com But I’m a Cheerleader, which is about a girl who is sent to a re-education camp to get rid of her lesbian feelings. That’s no coincidence, as Katie Gavin (lead vocals/lyrics), Naomi McPherson (guitar/production) and Josette Maskin (guitar/arrangements) are considered role models embracing their queerness and that is reflected in virtually every song, although it’s also about universal relationship perils. In ‘Home By Now’, with 4.5 minutes the longest song against the background of a strong disco rhythm, for example, people muse about what it would be like if a relationship had not broken up. That broken relationship again forms the basis of the powerful ‘Anything But Me’. That song is about escaping a relationship simply because it doesn’t feel right. It’s about trusting yourself and your instincts enough to walk away from someone while still feeling love for each other, before it gets too bad. The video for the song plays with the idea that we are our own captors in relationships, and that we can free ourselves from that. It comes to self-reflection in the country-like, more traditional ‘Kind of Girl’, with polyphonic vocals and accompanied by an acoustic guitar; think of fellow artists such as Haim or Kacey Musgraves. The accompanying video plays with gender-based roles. ‘What I Want’ sounds very different, because it strongly resembles Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi’.

So far the highlights. Although the other songs are certainly not bad, they lack the same energy and individuality and they seem especially suitable to be included in the soundtrack of a film. Coincidentally, MUNA also recently covered Britney Spears’ “Sometimes” for the movie Fire Island, but that song is not on this album. A positive exception can be labelled ‘Loose Garment’. It is a relatively simple song, with a rhythm like a heartbeat in the background and a subtly exciting musical arrangement, which differs slightly from the rest.

The final conclusion is that MUNA is making a good new start with this album, but still seems a bit searching for its own sound.

Saddest Factory Records / Competition

Photo credit: Muna