Muna’s second album, 2019’s alt-pop opus Saves the World, was very nearly their last. Questioning their future during the pandemic, the LA-based trio of Katie Gavin, Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin were then dropped by their major label. Realising there was no way of disentangling the band from their long-standing friendship, however, they’ve since created a record that pulsates with newfound freedom. Breezy opener Silk Chiffon – featuring new boss Phoebe Bridgers (Muna are signed to her Saddest Factory imprint) – feels like opening a window on a sticky day, while What I Want, a gargantuan Robyn-esque party-starter about getting royally wasted in a gay club, decimates pent-up lockdown frustration with each jackhammer chorus.
It’s an opening salvo that sets up the album’s genre agnosticism, with well-worn country ballads (the lilting Kind of Girl), rubbing shoulders with full-tilt 90s pop stompers (the Backstreet Boys-aping Mitski co-write No Idea). The fluttering Loose Garment, meanwhile, marries Gavin’s high-wire vocal to an ambient pulse, its lyrical message of learning to let go reflecting the album’s broader lyrical theme. Released from both internal and external shackles, Muna feels like phase two for one of pop’s best bands.