Written By: Andrew Sedo
Unpacking Marina Goes to Moon, the international debut EP from Brazilian “dream pop” duo Juna, is a bit of a mission. Fitting, since members Victoria Appollo and Thomas Almeida seem to want to take us to the moon. However, as the missing article in the title seems to suggest, there is more than one possible interpretation. The album cover, an acid drenched rendering of the iconic poster from Georges Melies silent classic, A Trip to the Moon, compounds the lunar theme. What follows defies expectations. Far from fantastical and otherworldly, Juna stay rooted on terra firma. Relying on real world themes and well-studied psychedelia, the pair constantly work together to touch on subjects relatable to all earthlings.
On the opening track (the aptly titled “Prologue”), Appollo delicately weaves her satin words between Almeida’s warbling riffs. She states matter of factly, “you don’t even know me / until I get high”, in a sentence fitting for your local stoner friends, and astronauts alike. Marina Goes To Moon is just as much about sitting in a basement, smoking and listening to vinyl, as it is about physically imagining the moon.
On the eponymous second cut, Appollo and Almeida are having a conversation about the nature of escape. She tells a story of a conversation between two people, likely a couple, “she says to him / someday I will be so far / you won’t see me / I don’t want to be yours anymore”, the last line delivered with a catchy stutter that stems more from confidence than insecurity. The song speaks to anyone who’s ever tried to leave a toxic relationship. Something keeps pulling her back. In this case, Appollo is trying to break gravity’s spell and get as far away as possible.
The next cut, “Aniram”, they craft a bleak vision of what life looks like on the other side of the void. Almeida’s droning bassline is reminiscent of a perfectly broken subwoofer, and Appollo’s lyrics show how lonely open space can be. She sings, in a melancholy trance, “wasting time / blow your mind” which in a vacuum sounds woefully simple. In the context of the anthemic 8 minutes, it’s supremely fitting. What’s left is a ponderance of whether she made the right decision to leave, wrapped in a lsd-laced package that is equal parts experimental and formulaic. Think of a version of Bitches Brew but with a guitar, and a church organist, mixed by Trent Reznor and you won’t be far off.
The hauntingly beautiful and totally genre bending “Aniram”, gives way to a true garage banger “Drop The Satellites”, in which, almeida pleads, “so let me be / I feel better with no one.” Heavy drums, a pulsing guitar track, and head bobbing finish make the song feel like a celebration of both types of space. Deep in the background you can hear the group’s extremely diverse influences from hip-hop to four on the floor, good ol’ southern rock n’ roll. The closing “reprise/two Times” is a re-imagining of “Prologue”, this time from way further out. The album climaxes with Appollo offering a trip of a different kind “we could go back / to the past / but love / never happened to Time.” The listener is left wondering, is this some kind of high musing? Is this profound, or is it faux-deep philosophy delivered by true sophists? Is this record about going to the moon, or leaving relationships behind? Much like in Melies’ film, we are unsure what is fantasy and what is reality. When the art is this good, this pure, this deep, you can feel it and wonder, does it matter?