Review: Walk the Moon, ‘What if Nothing’

Here’s the thing. I like Walk the Moon, particularly their self-titled debut. But I understand that a band needs to evolve. They’re like a shark. Keep moving forward or you die. But every now and then, instead of moving forward, a band seems to … side step. Or go diagonal at best. And after several listens, this is the case with their third album, What If Nothing.

What If Nothing seems to take a lot more cues from electronica than the punk influence that permeated Walk the Moon’s previous work, and because of that, it winds up feeling a little soulless. But it’s not just the electronica, which does work in places; the opening track “Press Restart” in particular, where it manages to feel open and soaring.

No, what really drags down the album for me is just that it sounds exactly like everything else on the radio. There’s the wildly overdone chanting in “All Night,” too much autotune in “Kamikaze,” and weird thumping percussion under the ballad vocals of “Surrender.” Their previous work had a lot of passion and joy to it, and each track was instantly recognizable and unique while still working together. Conversely, in What if Nothing, it honestly seemed like their singer, Nicholas Petricca, is bored. There’s no enthusiasm to it, and it doesn’t feel like he pushed himself at all, which is a real shame.

I don’t want to sound like I hated this album completely. There are a handful of good songs on it, with my favorites being “One Foot,” “All I Want” (whose instrumental has an interesting blend of Walk the Moon’s sound combined with the 80’s post punk of Devo and Talking Heads) and “Can’t Sleep” (Wolves).

But while there are those good songs, there’s no cohesion. In this day and age of streaming services and iTunes, it seems like artists don’t really build albums anymore, they just assemble a bunch of singles. The genres and influences are all over the map, and instead of a natural progression, What if Nothing seems to be built for shuffle mode. At the end of the day, grab your favorites from this, but I don’t think you’ll get anything special from listening to the whole thing.

-George Heftler

WHAT IF NOTHING FINAL SCORE: 6/10

 

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