Walk the Moon Peddles Pop-Rock Heartbreak on New Album ‘What If Nothing’
As one of the rare bands to based in the Midwest which struck it big, Walk the Moon has seen remarkable success in between the cracks of pop, rock and indie music. By mixing upbeat, new wave sounds with the sentimentality of indie music, lead singer and band founder Nicholas Petricca helped launch the band into the arms of RCA Records back in 2012 where they now are ready to release their third studio album. “What If Nothing” comes in right where the band always knew they’d be, with a massive worldwide following and a perpetually uplifting message.
This album is fun. Straight up, there’s no getting around it. It’s excitable in a variety of ways; through boisterous hard rock guitars, über pop structures and danceable indie pillars. This includes the use of break ups and post-love vulnerability, essentially staples of pop and indie music, as the core of their lyrical content. But Petricca and his bandmates manage to sidestep the majority of clichés with their sonic talents.
“One Foot” kicked off the promotion for “What If Nothing.” This tune was categorically designed to be an alt-pop radio mainstay. The producing team known as Captain Cuts, a trio of LA producers with past experience working with The Chainsmokers, Halsey and American Authors, took the lead here to help create an awe-inspiring pop anthem. One of the things Walk the Moon does best is craft ear-worm choruses featuring extremely common aphorisms. This of course helps that ear-worm dig deeper and deeper. Between the “Ooh’s” and “Hey’s” found throughout, you’ll find common phrases such as “cross my heart and hope to die” and “one foot in front of the other.” As their singles often do, “One Foot” evokes a cosmic element of oneness and inclusivity – this, of course, goes well with their almost tribal face paint. The outro goes even further by calling out the U.S.’s divisive climate at-large as the “so-called ‘Land of the Free’ and ending with “Don’t you know all that we have is each other.” In another moment of pop gold, “Kamikaze” starts off as a chilled out, tropical-house tune – think Kygo or Robin Schulz – but quickly turns into a catchy, pop chorus filled with “Oh’s” and brain-burrowing rhymes such as “Stepping out of body/You can tell everybody/Mama I’m a kamikaze.” The bridge even comes in the form of a pseudo-rap bit from Petricca. “Surrender” slows things down a bit with fluttering 80’s bass-synths and that classic indie drum beat that helped Walk the Moon break into the mainstream. There are elements of U2 here, that sort of lingering sound that Bono and company like to use to emote on ideas bigger than themselves. This tune in particular follows the core premise of the album; essentially the post-breakup blues where the leading man finds himself in the grasp of heartbreak, struggling to move on. “I’ve been trying to keep my distance,” he sings, “So hard to keep my distance.” Contrary to its title, “Tiger Teeth” somehow manages to delve even deeper into the sweeter, emotional side of heartbreak. Perhaps not in the cleverest of ways though; “Love bites, so deep/And we’ve got tiger teeth.”
Walk the Moon has basically boiled pop-rock down to a science. Overall, there are components of mainstream music throughout the entire record. After all, though, they are a mainstream band. Even their debut single “Anna Sun” from all the way back in 2012, focused on pop and indie-rock staples. This only proves the band’s complete understanding of popular music. They know what fans crave, and they sure as hell know
how assemble it too. Through “What If Nothing,” they’ve not only maintained their sound, but perfected it.
“What If Nothing” is available on Apple Music Nov.10.