Rating 9/10

MUNA’s sophomore album, “Saves The World,” is anything but formulaic. It’s raw and intricate. It captures your attention immediately and keeps you locked in for all 44 minutes.

The trio – Katie Gavin (vocals), Josette Maskin (guitar) and Naomi McPherson (multi-instrumentalist/producer) – began this album after opening for Harry Styles on his arena tour. This Los Angeles based trio is fresh out of USC and trying to handle this newfound popularity and success while navigating the “real world.” MUNA wrestles with this experience in their sophomore album.

This album is centered on overcoming anxiety. Through this endeavor, you’re taken on a journey: experiencing a heartbreak to coming into your identity to feeling hope. This album also tackles addiction, sexuality, depression and imposter syndrome.

While this album tackles tough topics, by no means is it depressing. Frankly, this album is easy to bop to. Similar to artists such as The Avett Brothers, MUNA has crafted an album filled with thoughtful, emotional music that you could sing while sliding around your kitchen in socks. By keeping many of their songs sonically intricate and upbeat, MUNA is challenging you to listen to the lyrics in order to comprehend their view on life; it’s a juxtaposition. Of course, the album does slow down at points; “Grow”, “Never” and “Memento” are powerful ballads. Even in these ballads, the overall driving electro-pop vibe of the album is not lost.

Even more impressive — MUNA has sole writing credits and at least co-production credits on every single song. The cinematic lyrics on driving down the pacific coast, contemplating a bee sting, confronting yourself in the mirror, reassuring your past self that everything will work out, and the importance of being present in the moment have all come from three newly graduated college students. In my opinion, this makes the overall emotional intelligence of the album that more impressive.

Through combining modern producing elements with an overall 80s aesthetic, those who care most about the musicality of an album can appreciate “Saves The World” just as much as those who care most about lyrics. There are conversations between Gavin’s warm, clear voice and Maskin’s guitar throughout the album. McPherson has mixed in driving beats in most songs – featuring the quintessential 80s gated reverb and synth – with dissonance in strategically timed harmonies to create an atmospheric feeling.

MUNA features driving electro-pop beats through the entire album. Many albums out currently have similar vibes and production qualities. These albums feel safe to us. We don’t have to listen carefully to understand the sound of the album – they all sound similar to varying degrees. MUNA’s album is punishingly unique. It’s sometimes difficult to decide if it is more important to listen to the thoughtful lyrics of the songs, or if it is more important to focus on the gated reverb, the whining guitar, and the effects put over Gavin’s voice to make it seem like she could possibly be singing underwater.

Overall, this album is an impressive endeavor in alternative electro-pop. MUNA simply refused to have a “sophomore slump.”

Favorite tracks: “Number One Fan”, “Who”, “Good News (Ya-Ya Song)”

“Saves The World” is available on all streaming platforms.