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MUNA releases its latest album just in time for summer

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Switching gears now, the band Muna released its latest album on Friday, full of electropop songs beckoning fans back onto the dancefloor after two years of a pandemic-imposed hiatus. The self-titled record is already a hit with NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. He says the queer liberation anthem called "What I Want" is his pick for song of the summer.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT I WANT")

MUNA: (Singing) Because that's just what I want, want, want. What I want, want, I want.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: So much of a great summer song is a song that kind of gets you out on the dance floor, out into the world, out of your house. Even if you're just alone in your car, you still don't feel confined because the song is capturing a spirit of getting out there.

(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.

THOMPSON: There's a defiance in the song, but there's also really this sense of embracing a community, being embraced by a community. Dancing in the middle of a gay bar, being yourself - that's still a powerful statement, and it's still couched in just these big, joyous hooks. It's just hard not to be swept up in it and to experience the joy of someone else's liberation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT I WANT")

MUNA: (Singing) She's dancing to the song with all that leather on. I think we'll get along.

THOMPSON: I think we all feel confined in one way or another - if we've been cooped up during the pandemic, if we just left a job. We're all going through these experiences of kind of trying to put our stake in the ground and feeling free, feeling like ourselves, pursuing happiness. And I think this song taps into that in a really universal way.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYTHING BUT ME")

MUNA: (Singing) You're going to say that I'm on a high horse. I think that my horse is regular-sized. Did you ever think maybe you're on...

THOMPSON: Elsewhere in the record, there's a softer side to it. There are tender ballads that still get their hooks in you. A song like "Anything But Me" is like a kiss-off song that is still about finding who you are, still about determining what you want and what you don't want, and kind of hoping that the person you're leaving behind is kind of getting what they're looking for.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYTHING BUT ME")

MUNA: (Singing) You say that you want to change. Well, I hope that you get everything you want, everything you want. You say that you need relief. Well, I hope you get everything you need, everything but me.

THOMPSON: There are overarching themes on this record of just, like, hoping that everybody finds their truth, hoping that everybody finds their peace, even if it's not in your orbit. And I think that kind of ties together to form a cohesive statement that I can really get behind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ANYTHING BUT ME")

MUNA: (Singing) Me, me, yeah, yeah. Me, me, yeah, yeah.

THOMPSON: I'm really hoping that this Muna record finds an audience because this is enormously catchy music. But it's also just really refreshing to hear queer bands celebrating queer love and queer lives and having that embraced and accepted and celebrated in mainstream spaces. And I just want more people to find it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SILK CHIFFON")

MUNA: (Singing) Silk chiffon - that's how it feels, oh, when she's on me.

MARTIN: Stephen Thompson talking about the band Muna's new self-titled album. He's a writer and editor at NPR Music and a co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUNA SONG, "SILK CHIFFON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)