Put it High on the Loudspeaker: MUNA’s “About U”

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2017: the year of 80s pop, synth-heavy new wave, and girl bands.

Not since Haim’s 2012 “Forever” EP have I stumbled upon a record written, produced, and performed solely by women–let alone been this excited about one. “About U,” MUNA’s debut LP, dropped just two weeks ago and is already shaping up to be one of my favorite new finds.

The Los Angeles-based trio, comprised of  vocalist Katie Gavin alongside guitarists Naomi McPherson and Josette Maskin, effortlessly combine elements of pop, synth, and rock–creating a euphoric album where soaring highs meet heartbreaking lows–solidifying “About U” as a must-have listen.

Track one, “So Special,” sets the tone for the record as dreamy synth, echoing guitar, and a commanding drum beat intertwine with Gavin’s vocals. Its moody lyrics describe the realization of a dying love, but the overall feel of the song isn’t off-putting–enticing listeners to follow the chronology of a now broken relationship.

The next two songs off the record, “Loudspeaker” and “I Know A Place” are cheerier follow-ups to “So Special”–noticeably more upbeat with lyrics that encourage acceptance, self-love, and healing in the wake of pain. Catchy hooks, infectious melodies, and their empowering messages will keep you listening.

Around U,” not to be confused with the LP’s title, is another noteworthy track. A true post-breakup anthem, “Around U” is one of the few (if only) straightforward pop songs on this record. Begging to be played at full volume, “Around U” was made to be danced to.

But it is the B-side of this vinyl that truly brings “About U” to life. Its ninth track, “Crying On The Bathroom Floor,” encompasses MUNA’s eclectic sound perfectly. Dark, broody, and laced in synth–“Crying On The Bathroom Floor” has never made heartbreak sound so good. MUNA recently performed the song on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!“–bringing its deep base and heavy beats off vinyl and into real life.

“About U” is 48 minutes of  raw, unbridled emotion–entwined in something between dark synthpop and rock. A compelling listen from start to finish, MUNA’s debut LP is the perfect find for anyone looking for something new to add to their collection.

 

So​ ​Much​ ​More​ ​Than​ ​Everything:​ ​The​ ​Cure’s​ ​“Disintegration”​ ​in​ ​Review

Dark, dreamy, career-defining.

Originating in the wake of the late-’70s punk scene, British import, The Cure, emerged as a forerunner in the post-punk, new wave movement of the 1980s–releasing 13 studio albums over the course of a career that has spanned more than three decades.

The band’s eighth record, 1989’s “Disintegration,” is their biggest commercial success to date and considered critically acclaimed amongst the masses–myself included.

Remastered in 2010, its vinyl was divided into two LPs–adding two bonus tracks that were scrapped from the original pressing due to the record’s length. Owning both the original LP and digital remastering, I can say each record provides a different listening experience, but one truth remains for both: “Disintegration” is a thought-provoking listen full of heartbreak and soul-baring honesty.

“Disintegration” is something out of a synth-pop dream. The record’s opener, “Plainsong” is anything but what the title suggests. Subdued, cascading wind chimes explode–giving way to synth-laced guitar as frontman Robert Smith’s spellbinding voice and haunting lyrics paint a picture that is, in true The Cure fashion, nothing short of melancholic.

Other highlights on the record include “Lovesong” and “Pictures of You“–arguably two of The Cure’s biggest hits, the former reminiscent of “Just Like Heaven“–a track off the band’s 1987 album, “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me” and testament to Smith’s ability to juxtapose gloomy, morose lyrics with sickeningly sweet melodies and vice versa.

But the heart of this album lies within the title track. Eight minutes and 20 seconds of chilling intensity–the climax of the record shattering through the silence following “The Same Deep Water as You “–glass breaking as a heavy, hypnotic guitar riff plays on. “Disintegration” is without a doubt the record’s darkest track (and my personal favorite.) And although its upbeat tempo may at first suggest otherwise, its lyrics seem to convey the somber tone of the album in its entirety.

“Disintegration” is a record that doesn’t feel like a hassle to listen to all the way through. Each track effortlessly dissolving to the next–its all consuming sound made to be played at full volume–has the making of any solid vinyl. Dismal and captivating, an atmospheric album unlike any other I’ve heard, “Disintegration” is a record well worth the listen.

 

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Begin the Begin

Hello, and welcome to The Vinyl Countdown. Before we get settled among the grooves, I think some insight on how this blog came to be is warranted.

This blog’s beginnings can be traced back to the backseat of my mother’s bright white Ford Windstar circa 2002. Car rides with mom were filled with an endless rotation of cassette tapes–me belting out my own interpretation of whatever the likes of Morrissey and Sting were whining about.

Car ride sing-alongs soon evolved into living room concerts in which I channeled my inner Belinda Carlisle–solidifying my undying love of all things new wave and synth.

Thankfully, I outgrew the living room routines and discovered a newfound hobby in record collecting–compiling a selection of vinyls from Paul Simon to The Paper Kites.

And so The Vinyl Countdown was born.

By no means am I musically inclined, but I hope to use this space to document my expanding collection and share my thoughts along the way. In turn, I hope you will stick around and enjoy the process.