Californian trio Muna might not wrestle the world away from its troubles but they certainly come close on this fantastic second LP. Seemingly written against a backdrop of mutual heartbreaks and trauma, ‘Saves The World’ portrays the LA trio finding faith in one another, and in the sublime artistry of their songwriting.
‘Grow’ opens in desolation, this sparse vocal augmented only by the slightest of piano flourishes. In a way it’s an outlier, with previous single ‘Number One Fan’ stomping into view with its pulsating Robyn-esque electro pop, a kind of ultra-glamorous tears on the dancefloor epic that revels in loneliness and the pursuit of love.
‘Stayaway’ offers warped, twisted vocal effects, before the tumbling lead recounts what comes after a breakup: “Leaving you was easy, now I gotta do what's hard / I gotta stay away...”
Often frank but rarely less than incisive, ‘Saves The World’ is Muna at their most potent. The production feels muscular, sharply defined, while the lyrical potency revels in awkward moments, in feelings that can scarcely be described.
The palette veers towards Los Angeles, with ‘Navy Blue’ recalling Tom Petty in his prime, or even aspects of Fleetwood Mac, this kind of bleached out AOR re-contextualised as a backdrop for heartbreak.
‘Pink Light’ returns to that jacking electronic sound, reminiscent of Cameo’s hit run or even Prince’s lascivious side. The brooding ‘Memento’ shakes it up still further, with its heads-down tech-edged sound burrowing into dank new arenas.
Bold single ‘Taken’ is already a fan favourite, and it acts as a mini-manifesto for much of the themes running through ‘Saves The World’ - Muna at their most direct, the slight guitar echo in the background links to the timeless songwriting, a kind of digitised Americana, the opaque beauty offset by those incredible, searing lyrics. “Dad left when I was eleven,” they sing, before adding with savage simplicity: “Mom said it was 'cause he couldn't / Keep from touching other women...”
A record rooted in redemptive qualities and propelled by its overriding narrative power, it’s sweetly fitting that Muna end ‘Saves The World’ with the promise of ‘It’s Gonna Be OK, Baby’. It’s the sound of three women moving beyond their past, their shared experiences deepening those creative bonds while moving into fresh space.
Ultimately 'Saves The World' is a bold, colourful, lyric return, one that is asserting while remaining utterly honest, completely true to themselves.
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