For the past four years, Washington, D.C.’s Misun (prounounced me-sun) has released some sublime singles, which had its benefits and disadvantages. On the one hand, for indie music followers, one could expect something new from the Baltimore every few months. On the other hand, producing singles only creates so much buzz, and most major publications and blogs tend to cover full-length album releases to ensure that an artist or band isn’t a one-hit wonder (although I’ve featured Misun on two previous occasions – as a hidden gem” and for their dreamy ode to June, July, and August, “Goodbye Summer”).
While the band did release The Sea in 2012, it was only an EP that got some traction with the most ardent indie fans. Now with the release of their debut LP, Superstitions, Misun is ready for a breakthrough, and the early indications are that 2014 and 2015 will be the year that people discover the synth-pop-rock-new wave quartet. Another way to think about them is that they have adapted an approach similar to bands like nearby Baltimore dream-synth-pop collectives Beach House, Celebration, and Mt. Royal to San Francisco’s Be Calm Honcho to UK’s Coves to Calgary’s Lowell, incorporating the music that will recall everything from the 1980s to the present. In short, Misun are music purveyors that bridge three generations of music.
From start to finish, Superstitions is captivating, infectious, and euphoric. It is an extremely engaging album that reels the listener in due to the terrific melodies, excellent beats and basslines, frontwoman Misun Wojcik’s smokey voice, and the finely crafted lyrics and storytelling. While the record uses synth and electric drums, they are not overused so the listener does not get ’80s synth-pop fatigue. In many ways, it reminds me of the incredible first album by The Music, the 90s psychedelic rock-dance band that had some excellent albums before disbanding a few years ago.
The first six songs of the album are terrific. The neo-soul foundation of “Eli Eli”; the sultry “Baby” that might have you recalling Havana nights; the catchy 70s-esque radio pop of “Battlefields”; the throbbing, bass-driven pop-rocker “Penny”; and the synthy, dreamy “Sun Made” are part of the sextet of songs. The best of the bunch is “Superstitions”, which represents how far the band has come in perfecting its sounds. It combines everything we love about ’80s synth-pop while melding the pop, electronic, and dance music of the 2000s. It’s not necessarily a wild dance song, but it is one that can be played in one’s living room, in the car, at a house party, or in a club.
“Jamie” is the most ambitious and challenging song on the album. Unlike the other songs, which are based in pop and rock arrangements, “Jamie” is enshrouded with country music sounds while interlacing modern pop harmonies. It’s a little strange yet somehow it works. “Promise Me”, meanwhile, is another song that best shows the range and potential of the band, mixing R&B rhythms with synth-pop textures. It’s a tune that might be made by Blood Orange, Jessie Ware, or possibly TV on the Radio. “Harlot” adopts a similar approach, but it’s a little moodier and darker. The use of the echo guitar effect is awesome in this track.
If there was one track on the album made for a club environment, it would be “Hills and Trails”. The track, which was released a year ago, reverberates with down-tempo beats and an echo guitar to create that bouncing feeling you get when you hit a club. Can’t wait to hear the remix for this one.
“Human” ends the album on an appropriate note. It is catchy and cheery, and you cannot help but smile while listening to the song. It leaves the listener on a high without getting overworked. But for Misun, Superstitions is an absolute high. As Wojcik sings,
“I’m just a person up to no good
At least that’s what they say about me I’m misunderstood.
I have big plans for just being human
But I came from the stars so I reach for them.”
And they’ll reach the stars, if not now but eventually.
Misun takes its name from frontwoman Misun Wojcik, and it includes William Devon (bass/keys), Andrew Wallace (aka Nacey) (guitar/production), and Jon Jester (drums). Superstitions is out now and can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, and eMusic. The album does include “Goodbye Summer”, the fabulous single the band released in September.
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