Review by Bailey Garno
It’s about time we got around to reviewing Walk the Moon’s fantastic sophomore album, but we have just been so caught up listening to it that we nearly forgot our readers may want to hear our take! Talking is Hard was released December 2nd and if you haven’t heard their lead single “Shut Up and Dance,” then perhaps you have been living under a rock. It’s a millennial’s anthem; a fantastic closer to their frenzied shows and the penultimate for all the album has to offer. Written in six weeks and recorded with Tim Pagnotta (Neon Trees, Tokyo Police Club) in the studio within two months, Talking is Hard is positively radiant.
“Different Colors” opens up the 12-track album, and is likely second in popularity to the lead single. Singer and keyboardist Nicholas Petricca sings through a filter, but the effect does not take away from his impressive range. Throughout the album, Petricca’s tenor voice soars in falsetto. “Avalanche,” an upbeat electro-pop love song, is also sung in a higher range and has an especially difficult chorus, but Petricca impressively executes. This track is a likely favorite on the album, making comparisons between the sensation of love at first sight and the cataclysmic effect of an avalanche. The idea isn’t terribly inspirational, and most of the writing in Talking is Hard isn’t hugely original. But the boys from Cincinnati aren’t promising emotional writing. The album title reveals exactly that. Instead, what fans are going to get is music that makes you happy and want to drive with the windows down.
Second on the album is “Sidekick,” a track that introduces the use of tribal beats. The quick-witted verses remind me of what the girls in Haim are doing. Filled with uptempo guitar riffs and a fun mix between bass drum and psychedelic sounds, “Sidekick” is a sure bonus on the album.
Next up is “Shut Up and Dance.” Within the first series of notes plucked by guitarist Eli Maimon, this song has the potential to close out a feel good flick. It is invigorating and uplifting, with verses that build to a chorus that you can scream along to. Of course, “Shut Up and Dance” is no “Anna Sun,” but what the lead single falls short of achieving is realized through the album as a whole.
The album gets gritty with “Up 2 U,” a power to the people sort of song filled with deep distorted guitar riffs and a little bit of screaming. Petricca howls out “It’s up to you!” reminding us that it is up to us to not fall for the persuasion of greed. Songs with similar moral lessons include “Down in the Dumps” and “Spend Your $$$.” The former is like an ode to the bullies, exes, and poisonous people who need not pull you down anymore. It is nothing stellar lyrically, but what makes “Down in the Dumps” are the series of simple lines that we can repeat over and over again together. “Spend Your $$$” again fulfills the rock element to electro-pop-rock, with a face-melting guitar solo halfway through. Like “Up 2 U,” Petricca and the rest of the band beg fans to consider the question, “Are you the driver or is someone driving you?”
A song that vies for the top spot on the album is “Work This Body.” When I first started listening to this track, I found my toes bouncing forward and back to the beat without even realizing it. Drummer Sean Waugaman has his work cut out for him in this song; he must be playing at least five different instruments at a single moment! The boys show here that they aren’t taking themselves too seriously, creating another clap-along beat that will stick with listeners.
The album begins to feel a bit exhausted by its tenth track, “We Are the Kids.” The 80s-influence is especially heavy here, but compared to the hyper tempo of the rest of the album, this song is a bit underwhelming. “Come Under the Covers” follows and is also restrained comparatively. Our final impression of Talking is Hard is really saved by the final track. “Aquaman” also pays homage to the sounds of the 80s with light percussion, synths, and guitar. It’s an excellent closer that evokes the image of a moon glowing off the shimmering surface of water.
“Aquaman” eases us into silence and should leave us content with our experience of this second album. Talking is Hard refuses to sell fans short with a safe sophomore album. Between their infectious single “Shut Up and Dance” and the frenzied fun of “Work This Body,” Walk the Moon has made clear that they are all about the concert experience. If you want to get this experience, check out the band’s official site for dates to their Talking is Hard Tour, which will run through the early part of the new year.
Work This Body
Shut Up and Dance
Up 2 U