MUNA's new album features growth and an 'astral projection anthem' NPR's Leila Fadel talks to Naomi McPherson, Katie Gavin and Josette Maskin of the band MUNA about their third album: MUNA.

MUNA's new album features growth and an 'astral projection anthem'

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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The band MUNA's newest album is about growth and taking control.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYTHING BUT ME")

MUNA: (Singing) But it's all love, and it's no regrets. You can call me if there's anything you need. Anything, anything but me...

FADEL: A lot of the songs have got those synth-pop beats that make you want to dance. And sometimes those beats are paired with lyrics about less than happy times. Guitarist Josette Maskin says that's on purpose.

JOSETTE MASKIN: You could either take the song for, like, what it truly means, or you can use it for the way that you need it. Maybe it is just, like, to dance to, or maybe it is to process something that you have maybe needed to hear someone else say.

FADEL: The album also has a lot of joy.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SILK CHIFFON")

MUNA: (Singing) Like, life's so fun. Life's so fun. Got my miniskirt and my roller blades on. Bag on my side 'cause I'm out till dawn. Keeping it light like silk chiffon.

FADEL: Naomi, I'm going to quote you about this song. You said, a song for kids to have their first gay kiss to. Did you write the song that you didn't have when you had your first gay kiss? I mean, this is a queer band. How did it become this anthem, really, that it's become?

NAOMI MCPHERSON: Inside of each of us, there probably is a little part that is attempting to sort of fill a gap in their own childhood experience. I would be lying if I didn't say that, like, I am so happy to be in a band that I wish was around when I was a kid 'cause I would not have felt sort of shameful and bizarre in my own identities.

FADEL: What about the rest of you?

KATIE GAVIN: When I started writing that song, first, I just felt like a weight lifted. And one of the unexpected things that came out of that was I kind of felt like I had this second coming out to myself. And a lot of this record embodies, like, really getting to a new layer of acceptance of my own sexuality. But yeah, as far as my first gay kiss, I've actually never been kissed, so...

(LAUGHTER)

GAVIN: ...Hopefully maybe it could be for me one day. Who knows?

MASKIN: I feel like you're going to get, like, a thousand DMs saying...

MCPHERSON: Katie does not need to be kissed.

MASKIN: I will take the L. I will do the kiss.

GAVIN: Not after they hear my snort-laugh.

FADEL: The album does feel different, though, than your first two. It feels almost like there's a sense of healing, a sense of taking control, a willingness to trust again, love again.

GAVIN: Yeah.

FADEL: I'm thinking of "Anything But Me," "Loose Garment" - just this sort of unapologeticness (ph). Where does that come from?

MASKIN: I think you actually said it already. It comes from the first two records, the emotional work and healing that making those two records did for us as a group. And this is the record that is, like, coming out from that and having a new relationship with yourself.

FADEL: I mean, it's interesting 'cause you're right. I mean, it isn't like any song's like, OK, everything's fine now. A couple of my favorite lines are from "Loose Garment," where you talk about wearing my sadness like a choker.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOOSE GARMENT")

MUNA: (Singing) ...Like a choker. Yeah, it had me by the throat. Tonight I feel I'm draped in it like a loose garment. I just let it flow.

FADEL: And so it's still there, but you've just figured out how to live differently with it and manage it, and it was very relatable.

MCPHERSON: That song does feel like a little bit of a thesis statement for where we're at with the songs and with our own personal growth at the moment, which I feel like is ultimately a very gentle way of of seeing your life and your progress, kind of holding those two truths at the same time, but not, like - not wearing anything too heavily, not drowning in your pain, having a different relationship with your own pain that is still obviously here.

FADEL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KIND OF GIRL")

MUNA: (Singing) I'm the kind of girl who owns up to all of my faults, who's learning to laugh at them all.

FADEL: "Kind Of Girl," I loved. It was one of my favorites.

GAVIN: Thank you.

FADEL: And Naomi, you also said...

MASKIN: Wow, Naomi's a quotable little monster.

MCPHERSON: I be saying a lot.

MASKIN: They be saying the things.

FADEL: You said on Twitter that it made you weep like a baby. Even though you're not a girl, this is one of your favorite songs. What made this song so special?

MCPHERSON: You know, I'm genderqueer - nonbinary or whatever you want to call it - so the nature of the pronouns was present in the song, obviously, but it didn't affect how the song felt for me. And I wanted our fans and people who care about the music to know that the perspective that it's coming from is, like, this song is for whoever can use it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KIND OF GIRL")

MUNA: (Singing) I could still change the end. At least I'm the kind of girl, I'm the kind of girl who thinks I can.

MCPHERSON: You know, we've had a lot of conversations between the three of us of, like, why is that song sad? Like, why does it make us emotional?

FADEL: Yeah.

MCPHERSON: Because it truthfully is a very hopeful song. And it's not devastating, really, but it feels it. It's definitely one of my favorite songs that we've ever made and will remain that for me for a long time, I think.

FADEL: What songs are you almost excited about playing live?

MASKIN: Oh.

GAVIN: Jumping in.

MASKIN: I got to take this.

GAVIN: I got to take it.

MASKIN: We haven't played "What I Want," but I think that people are actually - like, they might die.

MCPHERSON: I hope not, but...

MASKIN: And we are not responsible, but I will say the beat maybe is.

GAVIN: Yeah, the beat's banging.

MASKIN: People are going to freak out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT I WANT")

MUNA: (Singing) I want the full effects. I want to hit it hard. I want to dance in the middle of a gay bar.

MCPHERSON: When we wrote this song, we always joked it was our Super Bowl halftime, you know, like, moment. I don't know. We all have superpowers hearing that.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT I WANT")

MUNA: (Singing) I've spent way too, too, too many years not knowing what, what I wanted, how to get it, how to live it. And now I'm going to make up for it all at once 'cause that's, that's just what I want.

FADEL: Well, Lilly and now producer and editor are both going to die when you play it, they say.

MCPHERSON: Well, we don't want death.

FADEL: But, like, metaphorically.

GAVIN: Yes. Like, a spiritual ascension, like, an astral projection anthem.

MCPHERSON: Absolutely.

FADEL: All right. Thank you both so - sorry, the three of you. Thank you so much.

MCPHERSON: Thanks two of you.

GAVIN: Two of you, I loved. One of you - I won't say who - not so much.

(LAUGHTER)

MASKIN: Thank you, guys.

GAVIN: Have a good day.

MCPHERSON: Have a good day.

FADEL: That was Naomi McPherson, Katie Gavin and Josette Maskin of the band MUNA.

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