The “Pop” in Pop Music stands for Popular. This designation supposedly describes a fact about the music; namely, that it’s popular. However, to my mind Pop Music also describes a genre - an inclusive genre that covers significant chunks of the R&B scene, as well as pieces of electronic music, alternative stuff and whatever else label executives think will stick to the charts and make them rich and influential. The poppiest of Pop Music wriggles its way into the collective subconscious becoming earworms that drive the sanest among us mildly loopy.
Luna Aura’s recent EP Supernova comes across emphatically as electronic Pop, but fails to develop a single earworm that would make any of the four tracks overly memorable. Far from being a criticism, this observation means that Supernova is as enjoyable a collection of Pop tunes as I’ve encountered in quite a while - enjoyable, but not very memorable.
I’m not sure there’s a single “real” instrument during the less than twenty minutes it takes to listen to the five songs. This reliance on electronica helps, rather than hinders the experience, as there’s no real competition for your attention, and you can enjoy Luna’s earnest singing. Aura tries hard to bring sultry to the experience, and at times seems to succeed, but at other times simply comes across as earnest. If the lyrics focused less on relationships and more on serious topics, she could carry off some real meaning.
Opening the EP, “Like You” could be an 80s paean to love and monogamy if the tempo picked up just a bit. If released thirty years ago, I could easily see this one being the slow dance at hundreds of proms across the country. “Gravity” establishes the tempo “Like You” could have benefitted from, and proceeds to add a metric ton of layers of vocals and digital effects. This tune should be the first tune for strippers everywhere, what with the beat changes, strong female vocals and passionate lyrics. “Dancing With Your Ghost” struts its way into your ears next. This one smells strongly of mid-80s female-lead R&B acts. By the mid-late 80s R&B music had largely abandoned the B (Blues) and focused heavily on the R (Rhythm). If an album skewed too strongly to torch songs and slow tunes, you could be sure it always had at least one radio-friendly up-tempo tune, and this one could easily replace any of dozens. “Supernova,” another up-tempo Pop track, features a bit more female rap verses and digital wizardry than “Dancing With Your Ghost” or your average 80s female act that made it to the radio would have done. “Trigger” closes out the collection, returning to the more sultry and earnest style featured in “Gravity” and “Dancing With Your Ghost.”
As a “Pop” record, Luna Aura’s Supernova isn’t a horrible collection of digital junk whose sole purpose is to dig it way into our brains and leave tracks that’ll make us nuts in the weeks and months to come. No, it’s an enjoyable set of love songs that would be great for background music in a movie’s love scene or on your next date. The music’s fun and enjoyable without being distracting or depressing. Should Luna Aura ever decide to go more political with her lyrics, they could easily open for U2 and have a decent career as college-radio staples. If she worked on developing more earworm-y tunes, she could be a one-hit wonder, or better. For now, she’s pretty good (seriously, try this record the next time you go out and park with your date at a scenic overlook… you’ll be doing yourself a big big favor.)