Written by Erin Mathis
For the past few weeks, I’ve been sitting in absolute impatience, my ears antsy for the long-awaited release of Talking is Hard. Like many fans, Walk the Moon first stole my heart just a few years ago when their song “Anna Sun” gained exposure as the iTunes single of the week. Since then, the Cincinnati band has climbed their way up my personal list of beloved bands, eventually landing themselves a spot in, what I refer to as, my nearly impenetrable “top five of all time” (which says a lot for a band with only one official album to their name). Needless to say, my expectations for Talking is Hard were pretty high.
The big question then: did they deliver? For the most part, I’d say so. With this album, WTM didn’t just send music out into the world, they sent out songs to uplift and empower young spirits. And this begins with the very first track on the album, “Different Colors”, a song that encourages listeners to wake up, be rude, and get loud. On their Spotify track by track commentary, they reveal that it was written in direct support of the LGBT community, a group of individuals who they will continue to publicly support for, as their lyrics reflect, “as long as it takes”.
This theme carries over into the third track of the album, “Up 2 U”, a jam that contrasts soft keyboard chords against some super groovy, down and dirty electric guitar playing. It’s a wonderfully fun song that conveys an important message: that our generation has the power to bring about great change in the world, but that it starts with the individual. “Work This Body”, too, is a song about pushing oneself, however it is clearly one that is meant to be taken less seriously. “It’s spastic and joyous” lead singer Nicholas Petricca says in his Spotify commentary, and its inescapable beat is impossible not to work your own body to.
This leads into the inevitable mention of the album’s anthem, which is of course “Shut Up and Dance”. I first got a taste of this song when they preformed it back in August during their tour with Panic! At The Disco, and have been in love with it ever since. As the title suggests, it’s a song that’ll make you dance. The lyrics are fresh and youthful: “A backless dress and some beat up sneaks / My discothèque, Juliet teenage dream,” and bring me right back to my nights spent at high school dances. As I expected, this song is blowing up, and deservedly so. Their music video for it (which, by the way is straight out of 1980s – corny green screen special effects, big hair, and all) is consistently gaining popularity, and will no doubt break a million views in the coming months. WTM even recently performed it for an excited crowd on one of late night television’s most popular talk shows, Jimmy Kimmel Live.
There are a few other honorable mentions on this album as well: “Portugal”, for its lyric ingenuity: “I know everyone you know / You know everyone I know / Our venn diagrams are one circle”, “Come Under Covers,” for being the sentimental love song that this album needed, and finally “Down In The Dumps”, a futuristic-sounding song with intense drum buildups before each chorus, which mimics the buildup/drop formula used so frequently in popular EDM songs.
Despite these lovable songs, though, I still question whether or not this album is enough for me. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe I just haven’t listened to the songs enough times to truly appreciate them, but if anything’s true, it’s that I feel as if this album didn’t live up to its potential. Petricca says that this album was an opportunity for his band to say things that they didn’t get to say on the last album, and I totally see that. I commend them for their positive messages, and respect them for their incredible musical talents. However, something that I look for in an album is risk; a band’s decision to push boundaries, and create something remarkable. I think this album may have fallen just short of being remarkable, and I think the eighties are to blame.
Bleachers. Chvrches. Little Daylight. Magic Man. Twin Shadow. The Naked and The Famous. I could go on, but long story short, there are a ton of indie bands out there that have a heavily eighties-influenced sound. And there’s nothing wrong with it! In fact, most of the bands I just mentioned currently take up stock in my iTunes library. But when a ton of bands are all making similar sounds, it’s difficult to stand out, and with this new album, I question WTM’s success at doing so. Even “Aquaman,” the song that Petricca says “steps outside the box,” sounds uncannily similar to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” And though we all love the eighties, today’s listeners, myself included, don’t always want to hear the eighties. We want to know what 2014 sounds like. Or better yet, what 2015 sounds like. And despite my disappointments with this album, I still have faith that Walk the Moon can be the band to do that.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
To purchase Walk the Moon’s new album Talking is Hard, click here.