By Teresa Flores
Talking is hard, but dancing is pretty easy. And when you are dancing to indie pop-rock band Walk the Moon’s sophomore album, Talking is Hard, dancing becomes second nature. With their follow-up from their self-titled debut album, Walk the Moon has managed to brilliantly package the best qualities of ‘80s music and childish innocence into one amazingly nostalgic but relatively new album.
In a track commentary for Spotify, band frontman Nicholas Petricca said, “A new record is a great chance to try things musically and an opportunity to say things we didn’t on the last record.” While traces of “old Walk the Moon” linger throughout the album, Talking Is Hard showcases the band’s growth by introducing a fearless vocal range, stronger lyrics and great instrumentality.
The opening track, “Different Colors,” is Walk the Moon’s bold statement of change. The tune is reminiscent of ‘80s rock power ballads, without all the hairspray, showing the Ohio-native band has somewhat shed their indie, techno dance skin. May the fist pumping, head bumping and ridiculous dancing ensue.
Lyrically, “Different Colors” is strong and reads as a celebration of diversity. Musically, the sound is fuller. The percussive and bass spectacle makes it the perfect driving song. Roll the windows down, blast the song, and infect others with this head bobbing melody.
The band managed to seamlessly translate their high-energy live show performances into digital form and the best example of that is the first single, “Shut Up and Dance.” The title alone couldn’t be more fitting for the band’s style and goal for their second album. The track stands out as an anthem for the entire album. It’s undoubtedly the type of song that you bring out all the dance moves for no matter how tackily amazing you look. “Shut Up and Dance” is unapologetic and sincere as an ode to the silly ‘80s rock bands and their songs.
One of the bravest songs is “Up 2 U.” The tune proves that Walk the Moon is more than just an indie band. The track contains the most powerful lyrics throughout the whole album. “You better trust that voice in your head, that your world is not what it seems, it’s not the monster under your bed, it’s the one with you in the sheets,” are softly sung as the song builds up to a vehement, in-your-face rock chorus. For three minutes, Walk the Moon reaches sold-out stadium rock legends level.
When the fifth track rolls around, a change of pace couldn’t have come at a better time. While the first four songs of the album can be considered solid rock songs, it’s nice to get a break when “Avalanche” starts to play. “Avalanche” is an invigorating and perfectly composed song in a sea of seemingly nostalgic tunes. Petricca’s vocals are wonderfully executed with a dreamy flare as his voice dances along the track. Guitarist Eli Maiman’s guitar riffs are crisp and tight. The song features a funky beat masterfully created by bassist Kevin Ray and drummer Sean Waugaman. “Avalanche” is just simply beautiful.
Another top track from Talking Is Hard is filled with a clap-heavy beat, bubbly synthesizers and a little French lesson. “Work This Body” is an amazing mess of a song. It sounds like a kid in a candy store, spastic and joyous. The hip shaking begins as the feeling of carelessness overwhelms your body. The tempo changes with quiet French lyrics and resumes back into the seductive chaos. The best part of “Work This Body” is the instrumental section as the band just loses musical control in a very controlled manner. The piano plays up to a quick pause giving you a chance to regain your composure only to lose it for another 30 seconds. It’s another great example of how Walk the Moon has changed their sound, but is able to fill the three minutes with a roller coaster ride of instruments.
The only slow-paced song featured on the band’s 12-track adventure, “Aquaman,” wraps up the album. This aquatic-natured love song can only be described as the child of The Little Mermaid’s “Kiss the Girl” and Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” and sheerly sweet. After dancing through the first eleven songs, it’s delightfully refreshing to breathe in this tune that’s as cool as an ocean breeze. Petricca’s vocals reach an all-time whimsical high as he smoothly sings the lyrics. It’s a swoon-worthy track that will have you crying inside.
Despite the fact Talking is Hard was released late last year, there is no reason it shouldn’t still be playing deep into 2015. The album is one huge treasure chest filled with sparkling gems. Even if they’re gems that will have you thinking and wanting to be in an ‘80s metal hair band, but let’s face it, who hasn’t dreamed of that before? Although neither of the four band members lived their prime in the ‘80s, it’s a true testament as to how the group has matured creatively. To be able to produce an album filled with so much more substance than their last, Walk the Moon has made a statement saying they will be here to stay.
Tee’s Top Tunes: Shut Up and Dance, Avalanche, Work This Body, Spend Your $$$, Up 2 U