MUNA Credit: Katie McCurdy

Something strange happened to the idea of “the 80s” over the last decade. After years of mockery and pastiche, a new crop of artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, M83, and the 1975, along with producers such as Ariel Rechtshaid and Jack Antonoff, have started using glistening synths and gated reverb to signify something completely divorced from excess and cocaine—inside the transcendent, ahistorical sonic bubble of a bygone era of pop, they construct a cloistered space in which to reflect. Los Angeles electronic-pop trio MUNA further that tradition. On their debut album, About U (RCA), the songs are filled with processed popcraft that wouldn’t sound out of place on Taylor Swift’s 1989. But unlike Swift’s album, About U is never content with mere self-empowerment. Rather, MUNA write songs to live and grow with, pushing lyrically beyond cathartic self-expression into compassion, even during the deepest conflicts. “Everything,” a hymn to how thoughts of a former lover can infiltrate the smallest moments, showcases this ability to find striking moments of clarity in crisis: “I’m sorry to be so serious,” cries vocalist Katie Gavin, “I know you can’t stand me this way.” It’s those small apologies, communicated critically but with warmth and hope, that lend this unassuming band its power.   v