Over the Moon – “What If Nothing” Review

Well, my dudes, it’s finally here. The album I’ve been waiting for since Spring Break of 2014. It’s been a long, long time coming, so how does Walk the Moon’s new album “What If Nothing” stack up to my very high expectations?

Pretty well, actually. I mean, I’m incredibly biased, because I’ve loved everything this band has ever done and I suspect that will always be the case. But my personal biases aside, I believe objectively in a lot of the musical quality this band stands for. This album is definitely pretty experimental, and while I don’t know if every one of their experiments is a smashing success per se, it’s rejuvenating to hear some of my favorite musicians in the world testing the boundaries of their talents. It bodes well for the future of this band.

(Also, we got some pretty sweet jams and a new tour out of the deal, so I can’t possibly complain.)

So, let’s go track by track and take a look at this wonderful album.

Press Restart

So it’s pretty clear that this track is meant to mostly play the role of an opener to the album. I appreciate it a lot for the thematic overtones it lends to the album. I can definitely see it as a signifier that this era of Walk the Moon’s career is meant to be an era of self-reflection and change. I’ve seen almost all of the members of the band mention how much they valued their time away from touring and writing music as a chance to clarify how they approach their music.

It bears some resemblance, I think, to their self-titled album-era music, but with a much more poppish, polished sound. I like that, compared to the meaning of the lyrics, it pays homage to where they’ve come from while also looking forward into the future. It’s a slow, contemplative song, with that characteristic Walk the Moon optimism that brings it all together well.

As a song taken out of context, it’s perhaps not their strongest or most memorable, but I imagine, with time, it, like “I Can Lift a Car”, will become an emotional staple of Walk the Moon’s repertoire, with its notability deeply entwined in the culture surrounding this band.

Headphones

I’ve seen a lot of hate for this song from diehard fans, and I understand that. However, I’m in love with this song. It was the second single from this album the band dropped, and while I love “One Foot”, I was psyched to hear just how different this song is from the Walk the Moon I know.

I understand a want for our favorite artists and bands to never change, to always stay in the glory days of their first few albums, but there’s a danger in that too. As much as I love Walk the Moon’s first two albums, I respect them as artists and I really want to see where they take their music. And if “Headphones” is where they take their music, I won’t be too upset.

It bears some resemblance to “Up 2 U” from “Talking is Hard”, but that’s only in the case that it has the same hard rock feel. It’s really its own animal, noisy and raucous, with cheeky lyrics that I really enjoy. For all its differences, however, I think it still maintains the joy and energy that I’ve always admired in this band. That’s what makes me so excited about this song. It’s different, way different, but doesn’t stray from what made me fall in love with Walk the Moon in the first place.

Plus, it gets me SO HYPE. SOOOO HYPE.

One Foot

Ahh “One Foot”. I already talked at length about this song when it first dropped, and I’m not sure if I have much more to say other than shoutout to past me for TOTALLY predicting a bunch of things about this album waaay back in September.

But I will restate: I love this song! I think it’s fun and was a perfect first single to push Walk the Moon back into the public eye. I’m a fan. Also, Nick Petricca’s dance moves in the music video give me life.

Surrender

I kept falling so in love with each new single they dropped, my boyfriend made fun of me for declaring each new song my favorite. But I wasn’t lying! It really felt like each new song they released was better than the last, but I guess I have established that this band is a special one for me. So, essentially, I fell in love with “Surrender” from the moment I first heard it.

Anyway, I think this song is beautiful. It’s atmospheric but powerful, keeping up a driving beat that never allows the beauty to get boring. There are dips and crests of intensity and emotion that keeps the listener invested. And while I always praise Nick for his vocals, I can’t help but mention how his vocals are so on display here. It’s personal, restrained, and absolutely breathtaking. Also gotta shout out to that beautiful fade-out ending into the piano… just perfect. I couldn’t ask for a better finish to this beautiful song.

I also appreciate the 80s feel to this song. Walk the Moon always clearly draws inspiration from that decade, but it’s absolutely on display here. And honestly? It’s more relevant than ever for me (especially considering the 80s playlist I recently started compiling on Spotify).

All I Want

This is the song tumblr simultaneously freaked out over, due to the “maybe if I was straight” line. And while I appreciate that little hint of information on Nick… or whomever in the band this is referring to… I think the extreme focus on this one aspect of the song ignores a lot of what makes it great.

Firstly, I think this song maintains a lot of the jaunty energy from “Talking is Hard” with a hint of the new, spacey sound of “What if Nothing”. I love the merging of these two styles. It makes the song immediately approachable, but gives it a new breath of life and innovation for the band.

Most importantly, this song returns somewhat to the rock band instrumentals I know well from this band! I didn’t realize until I reached this track how much I missed Kevin, Eli, and Sean’s instrumental contributions. But of course, we get a characteristic Eli guitar solo and the strong backup from Kevin’s bass and Sean’s drums. Good to hear.

All Night

I sort of wish this song leaned a little harder into its sound. The “boom clap” percussion is fun, but I feel like it’s too tame, too quiet for the sound. Especially considering how Nick performs some of the falsetto parts of the vocals, I think it could have been served with slightly more boisterous instrumentation. I loved Eli, Kevin, and Sean’s contributions from the last track, so where are they now?? Bring them back! It would serve this track well!

Overall, this song is probably one of my least favorites on the album. It’s got some good parts to it, but it never goes far enough into those things to really sell the song for me. Perhaps it needs a little time to grow on me. Or perhaps there is a Walk the Moon song I’m ambivalent on, and always will be. Shocking.

Kamikaze

Don’t worry, though, my bias is back, because I adore this song. Honestly, I think “Kamikaze” has the intensity of performance and instrumentation that “All Night” desperately needed. I’d bet a sizable amount of money that this song will be electrifying performed live.

The lyrics have this incredible intensity and snappiness that I’m so obsessed with. I also love the slight atmosphere to some of the softer moments – it really ties it to the album as a whole without softening it overall. The intense instrumentation drives the song forward with unrelenting force, and you can’t help but bob your head along with the beat every step of the way.

I really think this song deserves radio play – it’s that kind of song that I think can resonate with a wide audience and represent the soul of the band. Time will tell if that will be the case, since I’ve certainly been wrong about this particular topic before, but I can have dreams.

Tiger Teeth

I’m pretty sure every hardcore Walk the Moon fan was waiting with baited breath for the studio version of this track. “Tiger Teeth” has been in Walk the Moon’s performance repertoire for years, but it’s never been recorded until now. Before, the song was only known as a soft acoustic ballad occasionally peppered in the band’s sets. Nick Petricca always said that they had wanted to record it earlier, but had felt it wasn’t the right time during the “Talking is Hard” era.

I’d agree, because this song is a little too soft and reflective to be able to stand out among “Talking is Hard’s” frenetic, joyous energy. However, on this album, it’s a welcome addition. It fits so well into this self-reflective, spacey experience.

While I think it’s a bit of an adjustment hearing this song in a polished, clean, non-acoustic form, I think it maintains a lot of the feel of the song as we’ve come to understand it. I think what I’ve always loved about this track is the simplistic beauty of it, and I think that feeling is maintained in the studio version. I’m sure there are probably people disappointed by it anyway, since I’m not sure any studio version could have possibly captured the intimacy of the acoustic version, but I think this version is beautiful on it’s own merit.

Sound of Awakening

This is another song that I’ve seen trashed a lot. And it’s certainly out there, compared to some of the other work we’ve seen from this band. However, I think there’s a bit of a rush to judge it. Sure, I think the beginning drags a bit, but as soon as the percussion kicks in, the song starts to make a lot of cohesive sense.

I think the lyrics are beautiful and powerful, and the unusual instrumentation gives it a particular punch that I can’t help but appreciate. This track really excites me to the possibilities for Walk the Moon going forward. I maybe don’t agree with all of the choices made here, but there’s a lot of fascinating potential for experimentation and betterment of the band as a whole.

Plus, I think the song gets better and better as it goes along. I wonder if perhaps the negative response is colored by the slow beginning, which lead some to not pay attention to the powerful, rhythmic climax of the song. Plus, I think the song grows on you on more listens. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this track ended up one of my all-time favorite Walk the Moon songs.

Feels Good to Be High

Alright, yes, this song is exactly 4 minutes and 20 seconds long. Yuk it up, everyone. Weeeeed jokes.

Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I have to admit I was a little apprehensive of this song at first. I’m generally not a fan of songs that derive all of their sound and meaning from drugs. I think it lends itself too easily to a lack of creativity. But you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. This song is very chill, of course, as one might expect from the title, but it’s got a really subtle groove that I really have to admire. It begs to be played loud and danced to.

I really love the instrumentation. It’s unique, but connected to the rest of the album. I’ve never heard a song like this one, but it’s still obviously Walk the Moon’s.

And thank goodness, right? I don’t really want to see my favorite band resort to making music that only sounds good when you’re stoned out of your mind. Because that’s just too much for me. I’m way too square for that.

Can’t Sleep (Wolves)

I’m a big fan of songs that approach vocals with a mind for rhythm. I think this track is an excellent example. Nick Petricca delivers the lyrics of this track in tandem with the instrumentation. It brings the whole song together, makes it stick in your mind, and is really just one of the things I adore about this band as a whole. It’s something they’ve done often in songs I’ve loved of theirs in the past, so I was ecstatic to hear it again in their newest album.

I think this song has a great atmosphere. (Have I said atmosphere enough?) I think it might be one of my favorites off of this album if I wasn’t so gosh darned indecisive. I love the guitar part in this song – it’s classy and restrained. Actually, I think I could probably describe the entire song in that way. It’s slick, refined, cool. I feel like if this song were a person, they’d be really well-dressed and articulate.

Is that odd? I’m having a hard time describing in words what makes me like this song so much. I just really do.

In My Mind

I’ll be honest and say this song didn’t really do it for me. I’m not entirely sure what it is about the song… I think it’s perhaps a little too repetitive. There are some good moments sprinkled throughout, but it otherwise begins to fade into the background a little bit, especially compared to the rest of the tracks on this album. I think it sounds a little unpolished, and it certainly isn’t very memorable. So I guess we do have a Walk the Moon track I’m not such a big fan of.

I will say that I enjoy the bridge for the way it builds, but I wish the rest of the song reflected it a little better. So bluh. A shame.

Lost in the Wild

I really enjoy the playfulness of this song. I think it may perhaps feel a bit overly poppy, but I can forgive it for that since I think the pop elements are used well. As always, it follows the beautiful, restrained (say it with me now, folks) atmosphere of the entire album. It’s not my favorite on this album, but it’s solid and well-constructed.

I love the falsetto backup vocals. It’s so very Walk the Moon, and it makes me smile to hear. While perhaps the instrumental choices don’t harken back to this band’s past as some of the rest of the album, there are certain, small vocal and instrumental choices that echo where the band has come from, and I really love that. It sums up this album as a whole well, and wraps everything up in a nice little package.

So, overall, what did I think about this album? Well, I loved it. I think it remained cohesive throughout, and did a wonderful job of playing homage to where the band has come from while also making strides forward. It does my heart good. I’m so happy to see my favorite band back in action, and I’m already excited to see what they’ll do next. I’m sure it will only get better from here.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s