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Alternative & Indie - Released February 3, 2017 | RCA Records Label
Formed around the vocals of Katie Gavin and the guitars and backing vocals of Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin, the Los Angeles-based pop trio MUNA's first album About U is a homegrown affair that's at odds with the production-line style most modern pop employs. The songs are written by the trio only, the album is self-produced (with help from Dan Grech-Marguerat, who has worked with Dragonette and Lana Del Rey), and there are minimal intrusions by studio pros. It makes for a very focused sound, with McPherson and Maskin's echoing guitars featured on most songs and Gavin's strong vocals and dramatic, sometimes sexually explicit lyrics front and center. The trio's sound is influenced by slick '80s pop and synth-heavy new wave, and the album is split evenly between heartbreak beats ("Crying on the Bathroom Floor,) moody, danceable jams ("Around U"), and darkly emotional ballads ("Everything"), with the occasional straightforward pop song mixed in. Any or all the tracks would fit in nicely next to the work of their contemporaries like Shura, Carly Rae Jepsen, and Tegan and Sara. Maybe a little too well at times, and as a result, About U won't win any prizes for originality. Despite the pains they took to create the album themselves, MUNA don't quite manage to separate themselves from the pack of artists with a very similar sound. It is a promising debut, though, with a pleasingly direct lyrical approach, very assured vocals, and enough songs with sharp enough hooks ("Loudspeaker"), emotional punches ("Winterbreak"), or both ("End of Desire") to make it worth the effort to check the record out. ~ Tim Sendra
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