Walk the Moon, What If Nothing | Album Review
Ohio alternative band Walk the Moon returns in top-notch form on their highly-anticipated third studio album, ‘What If Nothing.’
“If you don’t dare look back / Just keep your eyes on me / I said, ‘You’re holding back’ / She said, ‘Shut up and dance with me.’” Yep, that’s the song that eclectic alternative band Walk the Moon are known for. Breakouts are sweet, but following up a breakout – that’s a feat. Luckily, the Cincinnati collective are pretty good at the music thing. The promo singles served as a solid indication of the quality of their third studio album, What If Nothing.
“Press Restart” kicks off What If Nothing intriguingly. It’s enigmatic, chocked-full of vocal and production effects, and exemplifies its alternative stylistic categorization. Modern and sleek, there’s no shame in the game of Walk the Moon with “Press Restart.” Follow-up “Headphones,” a promo single, is more aggressive and assertive as a whole. It’s eccentric, but incredibly fun. Frontman Nicholas Petricca continues to be formidable, serving up infectious, tongue-n-cheek vocals. Sometimes he sings, other times he quasi-sings or chants. The music and the production continue to be selling points.
Walk the Moon continue to deliver the goods on the exuberant promo single, “One Foot.” “One Foot” commences exuberantly with ripe falsetto from Petricca. The production work is bright, anchored down by a driving groove. The vocals are strong throughout it course, the lyrics are catchy, the production work is slick AF, and the song is well-rounded. The crowning achievement of “One Foot” – the chorus.
“Cross my heart / And hope to die / Taking this one step at a time / I got your back if you got mine / One foot in front of the other / All that we have is each other / One foot in front of the other.”
“Surrender” keeps the beat rolling – literally. From the start, there’s a danceable groove, which sounds as if hails from the 80s or early 90s. Think of a mix of New Wave and house, though a smidge cooler. It’s synth-heavy, but incredibly emotional, and expectedly, superbly produced.
The momentum remains potent on “All I Want,” as does the groove. Here Petricca sings, but also busts a rhyme, which is a neat change of pace. No, he’s not dropping ‘hard bars,’ but the spoken word section, performed in an undertone, stands out. So does the pre-chorus, which features a number of “Maybe if I” scenarios:
“Maybe if I had a little more money / Maybe if I had a little more sex / Maybe with a little more peace and quiet / Maybe I could make a little more sense of it.”
“All Night” is pop-oriented, offering another magnificent backdrop. Walk the Moon continues to exhibit a knack for choruses. Here, it’s simple yet memorable. “Stepping out of body, you can tell everybody /Mama I’m a kamikaze.” “Kamikaze” is yet another super sleek number. Petricca continues to deliver mad vocals, particularly on the rhythmic, catchy, robust chorus.
“Tiger Teeth” is one of three songs that cross the five-minute mark. While it’s lengthy, the allure and quality easily atones for extended duration. There’s more hearkening back to New Wave, which is never a bad thing. The longest song of What If Nothing, “Sound of Awakening” follows right behind “Tiger Teeth.” Perhaps it won’t be for everybody, but it’s by far the most experimental, progressive number of the album. Six-minutes-plus is always a challenge, but there’s definitely something special here, and it transcends vocal effects.
“Feels Good to Be High”
Following two lengthier cuts, “Feels Good to Be High” limits the length to just under four-and-a-half-minutes. Furthermore, it amps up the groove. From the start, it feels like a hit. Clear vocals, crisp, clean production, and there’s a sense of poise. Nicholas Petricca doesn’t overdo it – he’s balanced and highly effective. The energy trickles onto “Can’t Sleep (Wolves).” Perhaps a smidge less accomplished than “Feels Good to Be High,” it’s as consistent as everything else that graces What If Nothing.
Penultimate record “In My Mind” delivers more satisfying ear candy, not to mention fuel for the fire for the feet. It’s consistent, energetic, and fun. Walk the Moon remains turned up and that’s never a bad thing. The sweet falsetto of Petricca is a highlight of closer, “Lost in the Wild.”
What If Nothing = success for Walk the Moon. There are no objectionable songs to be found on this 13-track album. The production shines, Nicholas Petricca is on fire, and overall, the album is infectious and plum irresistible. While so much buzz is being given to the biggest album released during the same week (Taylor Swift’s Reputation), more should swing by Walk the Moon’s way.
Gems: “Headphones,” “One Foot,” “Surrender,” “All I Want,” “Tiger Teeth,” “Feels Good to Be High”