May 3, About U by MUNA
Total tracks: 12
Songs you might know:
– “I Know a Place”
– “Crying On The Bathroom Floor”
My prior relationship with this album: I first became acquainted with MUNA when I saw them in concert opening for Bleachers. I remember enjoying their show well enough, especially for a band I didn’t know. However, they didn’t really impress me enough to make me rush home and listen to the album later (it’s been almost two years since that concert). But then after hearing a song here and song there by way of Shazamming in public, listening to friend recommendations, etc. the band has grown on me. They seemed like a great way to scratch that pop-but-not-pop itch I had at the time.
My impressions this time around: This has definitely been an album that’s grown on me the more I’ve listened to it. At first, I had a couple favorite tracks, namely “I Know a Place” and “Crying On The Bathroom Floor.” Initially, it seemed as though I spent most of the album waiting for one of these to come along. But the more and more I’ve listened, the more I’ve realized just how perfectly balanced About U is, and balance tends to be what separate decent albums from great album. There’s balance between synthpop and more live sounding instruments. There’s balance between sad songs and happy songs. There’s a balance between cohesion and variety. There’s certainly current pop trends in play, but yet the album still manages to feel fresh and original. It’s well-rounded in all the right ways.
About U is definitely a break up album, or as I like to call it, a “who hurt you?” album. I love how it’s so self-aware of how toxic the central relationship is/was, but at the same time can still make the pain of losing that relationship feel incredibly real. Too often, albums with similar themes glorify toxic relationship traits, or trade authenticity for cliches. MUNA also does a great job of making this feel like it’s a toxic relationship without demonizing or antagonizing the other person in the relationship. There’s lyrical nuance here that’s hard to find in pop music.
While I still love “I Know a Place” and “Crying On The Bathroom Floor,” I’ve also really grown to love some of the more understated tracks, such as “Winterbreak” and “Everything.” MUNA’s ability to execute both upbeat songs and sad ballads so well is a huge part of About U’s strength. Each song here gives the album more depth and dimension, creating an experience that gets a little bit richer with each listen.
Overall, I think this is a great example of how a band/album where no single song jumps out and steals your heart on the first listen can still be exceptional in full-album form. I think that’s a powerful takeaway, even if this specific album isn’t your cup of tea.
Who would enjoy it? I think anyone who’s loving the sort of ’80s-esque synthpop trends that so many artists are playing around with need to give this one a listen. Even if you’re just on the fence about individual songs you’ve heard so far, I assure you the whole album is worth a listen.