Walk the Moon
Talking is Hard


3.5
great

Review

by Ben Kupiszewski USER (14 Reviews)
December 2nd, 2014 | 62 replies


Release Date: 12/02/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Although there's not another "Anna Sun," Walk the Moon's sequel makes me want to road trip hard. Adult beverages may or may not be included.

Without revealing my age, I'll confess that I consumed way too much candy this Halloween. All the Skittles, Nerds and Jolly Ranchers were delectable until the bazillionth wrapper fell asunder to my feet, and with horror, I realized that the taste had become too sweet due to my lack of discipline.

Likewise, there’s no substitute for subtlety in songwriting, but that hasn’t stopped the legion of indie and alternative pop acts from striving for an overabundance of exuberance. Every genre that gains popularity and becomes somewhat mainstream fare suffers a curse: Tropes are developed, recycled and regurgitated ad nauseum. For indie pop, it’s being too damn bright and catchy.

Sure, it’s been all windows down, summer playlists fun bellowing with your bros on road trips or giggling, bikini-clad on beaches with your girlfriends sipping mixed drinks, but after several years of this reverie, you discern that “Best Day of My Life” really sucks something awful. The scales have fallen from your eyes; the novelty has finally worn thin. For every Awolnation and Bleachers, there’s an Imagine Dragons and American Authors to prove that today’s “hipster” music can be thoroughly uninspired and formulaic.

Cincinnati’s Walk the Moon treads the line between imitator and innovator (as much as the latter can be achieved these days). The quartet can deliver some sonic sugar highs -- see “Anna Sun,” yet they can also demonstrate savvy dynamics beyond their peers -- again, see “Anna Sun.” The big single off their 2012 self-titled debut never quite got the attention it deserved, reaching the fringes of Top-40 radio, perhaps missing out on account of its over five-minute runtime.

On 2014’s Talking is Hard, the much shorter lead single “Shut Up and Dance” should have no problem breaking into hit music’s airwaves. It’s an addictive, pop-rock ditty, boasting 80s buildup verses and a racing, flirty chorus both in melody and lyrics: Oh, don’t you dare look back/Just keep your eyes on me/I said, “You’re holding back”/She said, “Shut up and dance with me.” It’s a tad too saccharine for its own good, but overall, it’s difficult to complain about Walk the Moon here or on the group’s follow-up.

As a whole, Talking is Hard retains both its predecessor’s accessibility and relatively more sophisticated songwriting, making it a better listen than the average indie pop effort. True, it’s vibrant, but not quite annoyingly so, and Walk the Moon proves to be a master of its craft, featuring neurotic and clever pauses and tempo changes throughout. The work of drummer Sean Waugaman is a plus, as there are a variety of percussion elements to serve as a metronome to Walk the Moon’s jubilant ventures, whether it be the glam rock strokes on the bridge of “Shut Up and Dance” or the tribal beats of “Work This Body” or “Sidekick.” Frontman and lead vocalist Nicholas Petricca’s eccentricity on numbers such as “Up 2 You” and “Spend Your $$$” reinforces the tonal diversity -- much of it hailing from the 80s -- that’s found on Talking is Hard. Petricca’s keyboard and the guitar and bass lines of Eli Maiman and Kevin Ray provide lush, instrumental vehicles to match and carry the LP from beginning to end.

From the get-go, “Different Colors” is a resplendent, mid-tempo anthem that’s begging for single treatment. What it lacks in originality, it compensates for in execution and remains a highlight. The ensuing “Sidekick” is funky, and along with “Avalanche” and “Portugal” shows restraint while keeping the album’s heartbeat pulsing. Not everything, of course, works. The same themes of living in the moment and casual romance relatable to millennials abound a bit too frequently. The chorus of “Up 2 You” is jarring, and “Down in the Dumps” is as melodically cookie-cutter and as grating as indie-alternative pop can get with its synth arpeggios. Moreover, the finish nearly underwhelms with “We Are the Kids” and “Come Under the Covers,” though “Aquaman” concludes proceedings on a strong note coming close to capturing Savage Garden’s softer ballad moments.

None of these faults derail Talking is Hard, which is a solid and consistent consolidation of what Walk the Moon excelled on in their debut, though nothing is as stellar as “Anna Sun.” Detractors will continue too begrudge the group’s antics as too energetic and effervescent, a flaw of the entire genre. On the other hand, those who loved “Shiver Shiver” will jam to “Sidekick,” and those who dug “Jenny” will crank up “Shut Up and Dance.” For me, there is just an incessant urge to roll down the windows, drive to a sandy escape and holler with my friends along the way.

Recommended tracks:
"Different Colors"
"Shut Up and Dance"
"Avalanche"
"Work This Body"



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...and so is following up....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Pangea
December 2nd 2014


2575 Comments


I've liked the songs I've heard so far. Gonna listen

Digging: Explosions in the Sky - The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place

Green Baron
December 2nd 2014


23082 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Dammit, I was going to review this.

Kupasexy15
December 2nd 2014


305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Green Baron



You can still do one. It'll probably be better than mine. I admit that 3.5 is a bit generous, but it's grown on me a little bit.

dmp3131
December 4th 2014


1178 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

One time through this, really enjoyed it. Gonna give it more time though.

Digging: A Will Away - Here Again

unaMUSEd
December 11th 2014


1441 Comments


This is equal to their debut imo.

Kritical
December 19th 2014


22 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I actually think this is better than their debut album. Sure, no track is quite as epic as "Anna Sun", but it's one of those albums that is very much greater than the sum of its parts.

beachdude
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2015


836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Finally checked this out... "Up 2 U" is such a jam.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 24th 2015


23153 Comments


They seem like a poor man's Bleachers to me, but the few singles I've heard were good.

Digging: bansheebeat - Lumine

beachdude
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2015


836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I haven't listened to enough Bleachers to make a full comparison, but I loved the first album by these guys and this one equals or exceeds it for me. If you like indie pop (specifically 80s-influenced) this will be right up your alley.

Kupasexy15
April 26th 2015


305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sowing and beachdude,



I would say they're no longer a poor man's Bleachers because Shut Up and Dance is second most popular track on itunes last time I checked. Out of this explosion of indie pop-rock acts, I would rate them on the better side of things, up there with Bleachers. If someone 10 years from now asked me to put together a list of the best indie pop songs, Anna Sun would definitely be on there.

beachdude
Contributing Reviewer
April 26th 2015


836 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I definitely agree, this is a great album from front to back, although now that I checked Bleachers I do like them a little better.

Kupasexy15
April 27th 2015


305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, I need to listen to Strange Desire all the way through. I've heard everything but the end, but I would rate it a 4.

trackbytrackreviews
June 3rd 2015


3114 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

SHUT UP AND DANCE



WITH ME

Kupasexy15
June 3rd 2015


305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This woman is my destiny...



wooooooooo!

JakeSwny
June 16th 2015


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album just gives off a feel-good vibe that most artists can't match nowadays. So glad that shut up and dance is as big as it is now, and avalanche seems to be making a climb too Just a great album if you're ever feeling down or stressed out, just play this album and you'll be dancing around your room in no time

Kupasexy15
June 18th 2015


305 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I agree and hear you. Shut Up and Dance has outstayed its welcome with me, but that's because I hear it multiple times a day on the radio at work and I was jamming to it months before it blew up. Though I'm pleased guitars can be found on hit music thanks to it.

zakalwe
October 14th 2015


20973 Comments


"Without revealing my age, I'll confess that I consumed way too much candy this Halloween. All the Skittles, Nerds and Jolly Ranchers were delectable until the bazillionth wrapper fell asunder to my feet, and with horror, I realized that the taste had become too sweet due to my lack of discipline."

Hmmmmm. I maybe a year or two out but I'll hazard a guess.....43?

Isaacdiaz
October 22nd 2015


89 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My expectations were so low for this.. Don't know what happened

Cygnatti
October 22nd 2015


31141 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

shut up and dance is so good no matter how many billions of times they'll play it

but different colours is garbage

Digging: Zebra Katz - Ima Read

Isaacdiaz
October 23rd 2015


89 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

but but but this entire album it's so catchy

Different Colors It's a jam



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