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Album Review: Walk the Moon - What If Nothing

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Undoubtedly best-known in the popular consciousness for 2015’s summer hit ‘Shut Up and Dance’, Walk the Moon have just released their fourth album What If Nothing. They seem to be exploring new avenues – the album doesn’t totally comprise of shiny indie-pop, though it has its fair share.

Carefully blended with intricate layers of sound and polished to perfection, each track brings something slightly different to the mix. ‘One Foot’ provides more of what we expect from the group, whilst tracks like ‘Headphones’ and ‘Sound of Awakening’ head more into left field. Whilst some of the tracks from What If Nothing are great, I’m not sure that their experimentation is entirely successful.

The album starts strongly with songs that fit within their pre-established discography. ‘Headphones’ makes use of a heavier sound than their usual indie pop, featuring crashing guitars and wailing vocals, with a less melodic and serene outcome than some of the others on the album. But despite this it suits their style and, since my initial listen-through, it has seemed to fit into the album more and more.

‘One Foot’ is peak Walk the Moon - an infectiously catchy track, which can be repeated over and over to no detriment. It's danceable in all the best ways, and is probably the track from the album most comparable to their smash-hit 'Shut up and Dance'. If you went into this album looking for more of the same, ‘One Foot’ fulfils this expectation. It’s a feel-good anthem about carrying on despite the struggles you may face, about putting “one foot in front of the other”. What’s not to like?

A few of the tracks are a bit less expected, and take a little more time to get used to. The biggest example of this is their psychedelic chant of a song, ‘Sound of Awakening’. Having been introduced to Walk the Moon as an indie band, with a thoroughly indie-pop sound, this is the only track that I have trouble finding something to like, being so far removed from their usual ballpark. Others, like ‘Can’t Sleep (Wolves)’ and ‘Tiger Teeth’, have grown on me upon listening a second time, but this one evades me.

In a year of immense political significance, indie pop like Walk the Moon is a welcome escape. This album seems to stick to this thesis, with songs about relationships (like the tumultuous one described in ‘Tiger Teeth’) and uplifting songs about carrying on no matter what.

The band describe the album’s first single, ‘One Foot’, as being about “the idea of putting one foot in front of the other and seeing that expanse of unknown, of nothingness, of total uncertainty, and moving forward anyway, making that choice”. In a time of such political uncertainty, this certainly seems true. They go on to say “given what we’ve experienced in our lives while making this record, and given all that’s going on in the world, it feels really poignant to share that message of perseverance”.

Overall, whilst a couple of the tracks are a bit out of my indie-pop comfort zone, the delightful synths, effortless production and echoing vocals are definitely worth checking out.

What If Nothing is out now.

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