Guess-list: Walk The Moon

WALK THE MOON is walking on that ‘tightrope’ again, trying to keep rock alive on pop radio. The former “indie” band dominated the pop airwaves in the summer of 2015 with the unavoidable “Shut Up and Dance,” the stomping pop-rock hit from the late 2014 release of Talking Is Hard. After their breakout moment and tons of touring, the band took a break to focus on things outside their creative endeavors. Now the Cincinnati-based group are back with their third studio album, What If Nothing, a record that has WALK THE MOON honing their sound in the most epic way yet.
They’re pulling out all the stops, but not in ways aimed at recapturing the magic of Talking Is Hard. The tight-knit friends are exploring newfound sensibilities while bringing a heavy dose of pop to their lighthearted rock style. In the end, What If Nothing doesn’t have WALK THE MOON compromising their artistry or ignoring where they came from. It’s having them take chances in a time where taking risks in pop music is becoming less and less a common movement. Well, I’m ready to shut up and dance to What If Nothing. Are you? Here are my best guesses to which songs they’ll play next year on tour.
“Press Restart” – (Yes) – Opening track, “Press Restart,” utilizes lead singer Nicholas Petricca’s falsetto in a Bon Iver sort of way. The ambitious first song also boasts driving rhythms from drummer Sean Waugaman with Jon Bellion’s bass lines proving pure dreaminess. Guitarist Eli Maiman directs his vision to a funk tempo style, creating yet another surprise out of the gates. Right off the bat, this is the song that will define WALK THE MOON moving forward. It’s their way to reintroduce themselves to the world, and boy do they succeed on all cylinders. In addition, “Press Restart” is the name they adopted for their upcoming tour, so how could they possibly not play this one?
WALK THE MOON - "Press Restart"
“Headphones” – (Yes) - Taking a dicey chance on “Headphones” might pay off for the Ohio quartet. Despite the thunderous beginning that’s an explosion of discordant noise segueing into the high-octane, pop-meets-rock style, I’m still on the fence. The opening verse, I can take a beating like a good pair of headphones/I can take a hit like Karate Kid/You know you could learn a lot from a good pair of headphones/Like how to take a beating/I know I did, raises some concern on a lyrical forefront. In an interview, Petricca noted, "That was the very first song that we wrote when we got back together in Austin. It just came out of us, this angry-boy energy." Since it’s the second single and has been performed live eight times already, I have to believe it will be played on tour despite my reservations on its appeal.
WALK THE MOON - "Headphones"
“One Foot”– (Yes) - The most infectious pop song of 2017 may just have to be “One Foot.” Nevertheless, it’s WALK THE MOON'S first single in over three years. Serving as the introduction to the direction they’re heading on, “One Foot” is the album’s call to arms. It features a catchy chorus with a testament to unity, worth singing at the top of your lungs to at any given show. In vein of the style that made “Shut Up and Dance” such a powerful force, “One Foot” offers the same stomping one-liner in Got your back, if you’ve got mine, one foot in front of the other.
WALK THE MOON - "One Foot" (Official Video)
“Surrender”– (Yes) - WALK THE MOON slows everything down on the fourth track and I realize these guys aren’t pigeonholed to one particular style of music. With a deep 80s synth-beat, the band comes alive more so here than anywhere else found on What If Nothing. I have to say, this reflecting tale about a former lover is the best song Maroon 5 never wrote. With Petricca’s echoed vocals throughout, this is the finest showcase the band has ever had while entering ballad-territory. The latest single is another one you can undeniably expect in their setlist.
WALK THE MOON - "Surrender"
“All I Want” – (Maybe) - “It’s about realizing that external validation isn’t really worth that much. It has to come from within,” Petricca stated ahead of the song’s release. Since this is a significant song for him, it could be put into their setlist. The hyperactive rock song does have some moments of true brilliance, especially within the colorful and stylistic chorus. In a strange way, there’s a little U2 vibe to be found here. Nonetheless, it feels like the kind of song that will grow on you as time passes as the initial listening experience left me a bit underwhelmed.
WALK THE MOON - "All I Want"
“All Night” – (Yes) – As we get to the sixth track, WALK THE MOON once again changes directions. The midtempo, Imagine Dragons-lite “All Night” slows down the mood as it carries an overall dance-floor groove from start to finish. It’s a pure pop track with its club-style beats and Petricca’s channeling an Adam Levine-type of croon. It’s a solid contribution to the album that can serve as the feel-good anthem and one I can see bringing people together at a live performance.
WALK THE MOON - "All Night"
“Kamikaze” – (No) – Here’s another one that crosses the lines of a Maroon 5-meets-Imagine Dragons quality. As much as I want to stray away from comparisons, they just immediately come to mind. It’s a hard-hitting stomper with high production values, exploring this R&B-pop-rock amalgamation that delivers a mighty punch by the time things wrap up. Once again, WALK THE MOON has an album that’s bursting with potential singles and hits, but not every song can be put into a set list. With that being said, I’ll give this one a hard-pass.
WALK THE MOON - "Kamikaze"
“Tiger Teeth” – (Yes) – The band has been toying around with “Tiger Teeth” for several years during their live shows. They previously mentioned it didn’t make it to their previous album (Talking Is Hard) waiting to “do it justice.” That’s exactly what they did with their second longest track (5:23) off the new record. It’s an ambitious song focusing on the inescapability of pain when parting ways with someone. “Tiger Teeth” is big in sonic scope from an album occupied with loud-in-your-face jams, but just like tiger teeth, this one cuts deep.
WALK THE MOON - "Tiger Teeth"
“Sound Of Awakening” – (No) – With the opening track, “Press Restart,” Nicholas Petricca’s falsetto sounds like early Bon Iver, but with “Sound of Awakening,” he’s going for Bon Iver of the 22, Million era. Translation? Not the wisest choice. This Phil Collins wannabe “In The Air Tonight” track may impress on a purely experimental level. However, it’s completely jarring for an album that keeps you on all the right highs up until this point. To make matters worse, it’s over six minutes long. My gut tells me this one has a small, if any, chance of making it to the setlist.
WALK THE MOON - "Sound Of Awakening"
“Feels Good To Be High” – (No) – One of the more straightforward pop-rock songs off What If Nothing, “Feels Good To Be High” is the safest song of the bunch. While there’s nothing wrong with keeping things relatively simple both lyrically and sonically, it’s just doesn’t live up to par. WALK THE MOON'S pop sensibilities are strong again and there’s much to enjoy. However, for a band pushing beyond simplicity this go around, “Feels Good To Be High” is colorful yet slightly disconnected with the rest of the songs.
WALK THE MOON - "Feels Good To Be High"
“Can’t Sleep (Wolves)” - (Maybe) – Here’s a real fun track from What If Nothing with hypnotic guitars, a groovy bassline, and bold synthesizer trimmings. Once again, you’ll feel the Maroon 5 Red Pill Blues style here and that’s nothing to scoff at. With the added crunchy drums and 80s pop tones, “Can’t Sleep (Wolves)” is a definite winner. They haven’t debuted this one live, but the prospect of it appearing on a setlist is promising. However, with such a front-loaded album of great jams, I’m not 100% sure if there’s room for “Can’t Sleep (Wolves)” come show time.
WALK THE MOON - "Can't Sleep (Wolves)"
“In My Mind” – (Yes) – The ensuing track, “In My Mind,” has already seen the light of day at least three live performances. I can see why it was presented well beyond the release of the album because it blends the band's previous style and newfound direction. Getting both the past and present WALK THE MOON sound is great while the song serves as a top notch-uplifting piece to What If Nothing. Without a frenzied vibe like a few others before it, “In My Mind’s” outro has a killer guitar riff with the overall scope of the song feeling majestic. This one deserves the spotlight treatment every night of the tour.
WALK THE MOON - "In My Mind"
“Lost In The Wild” – (Yes) – The shimmering bundle of bliss that is “Lost In The Wild” is a new wave’s fan dreams come true. Taking notes from The Killers’ Brandon Flowers, the grand finale is beyond grand on so many levels. It’s lyrically the band’s finest with, Flashes of the night come rushing in/In a stampede of misbehaviors being the most vivid line off the album. The ascending jam is bursting with imagery and pulsating with the beautiful yearning to connect with something much higher than we’ve ever felt before. “Lost In The Wild” is glue that holds the album together because in many ways its themes have crossed over from “Press Restart,” “Surrender,” and “All I Want” before it. With that said, “Lost In The Wild” is the call to action you need to keep an ear out for.
WALK THE MOON - "Lost In The Wild"
What If Nothing is available now. WALK THE MOON'S Press Restart Tour begins January 12 at the Anthem in Washington, DC. To catch the band on the road in a city near you, visit Live Nation for tickets.
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Last updated: 17 Jan 2019, 09:43 Etc/UTC