MUNA released their sophomore album "Saves The World" back in September 2019, and I never got around to reviewing it. In my opinion, it was one of 2019's most underrated records. Unlike most artists, the album was only released digitally due to the band's belief on vinyl and cd's impact on the environment if not recycled in the future. You gotta love these environmentally friendly icons.
"Saves The World" includes 12 songs that each tell a compelling story. This album is basically a diary for lead singer, Katie Gavin. It's about constantly trying to figure out how to exist and grow as a whole individual again after heartbreak, disappointments, and mental health issues.
The album begins with "Grow" featuring the lyrics, "I want to grow up/ I want to put away my childish things/ I think that I'm ready to take this song off repeat," sung by Gavin over soft and tender piano melodies. Already, this beginning is a big difference compared to their debut album, where it started off aggressively.
But boy did the next song slap me in the face! "Number One Fan", the band's first single off the album, is a stellar electro-pop song.
"Navy Blue" is a totally emo-pop ballad. Gavin sings about a journey of self-discovery and recovery over a bed of wistful melodies and solid, deep baseline. "I'm just trying to keep my head above water," Gavin sings.
To add to the emo train, in the synth ballad "Never", Gavin swears off love and interests for good: "I don't know if I like love, I think I've had enough, seems like it's alright for some it's just I'm not one / I'll never love again / I'll never sing again."
"Taken" is the wildcard on this record. It's totally different than anything the band has ever put out. The combination of synths and acoustic guitars work so well. The lyrics are so honest- it backs up the theme of giving up on love of "Never" through a tale of wanting someone that is simply taken. "I know you said you had a girlfriend / I just thought that if I could take you from her / Maybe that it would prove that I'm worth something," she sings.
"Pink Light", "Stayaway" and "Hands Off" are in my opinion, the album's heartbreak sad-bangers. All include deep synths, driving baselines, hard snares, pulsating guitar, and cathartic vocals.
The chorus of "Pink Light" makes you want to scream the lyrics to the top of your lungs; "Maybe if you'd stay for an hour or two / When the sun came up, when I last saw you/ Maybe if you'd see the soft pink light / I wouldn't be alone tonight."
Gavin realizes in "Stayaway" that she only finds herself doing things just to see the one person that she shouldn't and she knows it's difficult to keep her distance. "Actually now that I'm thinking about it / I did most things to get to you," she reflects. "Noone ever told me leaving was the easy part / I gotta stay away."
"Hands Off" is the next part of this three-part story. With the lyrics "I see you, I see you / And it's been some time since I've seen you last / No, you can't touch, get your hands off of me," Gavin asserts herself and refuses to rekindle an old flame.
The pulsing "Memento" is a thorough story about a bee sting that Gavin got on a trip with an ex. "Something 'bout the way I had to pull it out/ Never healed quite right and now I got a scar," She sings with heavy autotune. The next line really embodies the main theme of "Saves The World"; what it means to learn from scars and turn them into something positive and worth celebrating: "I'm glad it left a mark."
The closing track "It's Gonna Be Okay, Baby" is basically an autobiography. The verse includes sad anecdotes such as: "You're gonna cut off your hair / With dull scissors from the desk in your dorm room / You're gonna move to LA / Guess you're running away from the patterns you have / Trying to find some place you can hide and get high / You're gonna think about suicide. The chorus repeats a comforting "it's gonna be okay. It's a very peaceful ending with the acapella affirmation that "it's gonna be okay."
MUNA is definitely saving and protecting pop's image. The band continues to remain on the outskirts of mainstream music. They're definitely a hidden gem. Check out the album on Youtube!
Favorites: "Pink Light", "Stayaway"
Least Favorites: "Memento"