MUNYA Struts into Outer Space on 'Voyage to Mars'

BY Luke PearsonPublished Nov 2, 2021

Those with an ear for new releases have likely already fallen in love with Montreal-based artist MUNYA's cover of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Tonight Tonight." Forgoing (perhaps sadly) the original's gorgeous finger-picking in favour of a dusky, Parisian after-party vibe, and replacing (perhaps not so sadly) Corgan's famously nasal delivery with her own breathy tones, MUNYA (real name Josie Boivin) has come up with something truly special here: a proper reinterpretation as opposed to a simple cover that is likely already populating various high-profile playlists.

As strong as the rest of Boivin's debut full-length Voyage to Mars is — its title, like the original Pumpkins video for "Tonight Tonight," is inspired by Georges Méliés' Le Voyage dans la Lune — this cover is definitely the strongest thing on it. Then again, it would be unfair to let this detract too much from such a promising debut.

There are indeed plenty of other highlights here. "Cocoa Beach" impresses with its slinky bassline and disco-ball chic even before the chorus suddenly changes both key and language—a real swoon-worthy Francophone moment. Elsewhere we get more disco-funk goodness on "Voyage," some Beach Fossils-style jangle-pop on the extra hummable "America," and "Perfect Day," with its funky '80s palette straight out of a long-lost Madonna (or Mitsou) B-side. A subtle through-line of '60s French psychedelia (fans of Air and maybe Broadcast will be at home) holds it all together as well, giving Voyage to Mars a breezy, cosmopolitan feel — it is a mature, unified sound. 

Breezes, as pleasant as they are, don't often leave lasting impressions, however, and there are pockets of Voyage to Mars that, depending on one's sensitivity perhaps, offer little more than a fleeting caress. The album's strengths definitely revolve around Boivin's overall style and seemingly effortless conjuration of a specific vibe, rather than an abundance of hooks and memorable moments. The gauzy (albeit soothing) production and reliance on same-y, mid-range tempos threaten to carry some of the lesser tracks into the background sometimes — but then there are little details, like the Boards of Canada-style noodling in "Tresor," or weird deep cut "Captain Ron," full of unexpected turns and impulsive synth leads; both are welcome complications. Certainly, as a stylistic statement of intent, Voyage to Mars is a triumph. As a debut full-length, it is also very good.

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