They say to never judge a book by its cover, but this age-old idiom probably didn’t see Ohio-based pop quartet Walk the Moon coming. Then again, neither did the industry — as the band managed to self-release an album, tour extensively, and book appearances at last year’s Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza without label support. Snatched up by RCA and now putting out records proper, we have Walk the Moon. And it’s exactly what you would expect from a band who has toured with Panic! at the Disco, Grouplove, and Young the Giant: huge, catchy choruses, danceable melodies, and poppy, life-affirming lyrics. Nothing more, nothing less.
The song composition is impeccable for inciting dance parties and rowdy singalongs, with the falsetto vocals of “Shiver Shiver”, the opening drum sequence of “Quesadilla”, and the heavy synths of ”Fixin”‘ among the notable highlights. The band switches from uptempo drum kicks to atmospheric soundscapes of echoing beats and guitars seamlessly, with Nicholas Petricca’s soaring vocals making the transitions even sweeter, especially noticeable on “Next in Line”.
On the lyrics front, the sonic depth achieved by the layers upon layers of synths is not quite paralleled. “Next in Line” can’t help but recall old Panic! at the Disco’s hormone-driven songs about ‘testosterone boys and harlequin girls’ with lines such as “My eyes are on the road, and my mind is on your body.” The lyrical spectrum of the album stays about on this level throughout, with gem one-liners like “Jenny’s got a body just like an hourglass, I’m taking my time, taking my time.”
Closer “I Can Lift A Car” grows the way a pop ballad should, expanding from quiet first lines to triumphant, repeated choruses at its conclusion. It’s in this meeting of initial expectations and formulas that makes this song, and album as a whole, tire a little quicker than normal summer playlist favorites should, ultimately rendering Walk the Moon a lukewarm, uninspiring collection of generic pop songs.
Essential Tracks: “Quesadilla”, “Shiver Shiver”