When Walk the Moon hit the scene in 2012 with two big hits, “Anna Sun” and “Tightrope”, fans flocked to the band’s tightly-wound dance attacks. Strong production value, killer harmonies, and electrifying instrumental construction brought the band’s self-titled debut a cult following of sorts. Two years later, Walk the Moon is back again with Talking Is Hard. If the retro influences on the self-titled weren’t apparent, they are in full force on this record. With Talking Is Hard, Walk the Moon gives us an album that is equal parts ’80s as it is new and fresh, and the results are of the utmost quality.
It is tough to accurately classify Walk the Moon. At their core, they are an alternative rock band, but they take from a colorful spectrum of influences. Some call them art pop, others electro pop, and new wave, but all you need to know is that they make upbeat rock music. They have a similar appeal as peers like Grouplove and Phoenix, but they have a unique sound that makes them stand out. Rooted in classic ’80s rock, their music can feel huge in scope, built to lead arenas in euphoria. However, Walk the Moon is just an alternative rock that you can really groove to. They have songs you can dance to, sing along to, and simply enjoy with all your heart. You’ll feel yourself nodding your head to these tracks, and some of them will stick with you for hours and hours.
The album’s lead single, “Shut Up and Dance”, serves as a thesis statement of sorts. Its built-for-arenas opening riff lays the foundation for an unapologetic, shout-out-loud, dance anthem like few you may know. The song’s good time vibe carries throughout the record, as we are not made to scrutinize each and every melody, but simply enjoy them. “Different Colors”, the record’s opener, possesses an unstoppable groove, made for a sunny day, complete with infectious “ooh-ooh” harmonies that will make old fans swoon, and excite new fans. Other songs like the stand-out “Spend Your $$$”, synth-driven “Portugal” and beach jam “Avalanche”, all share this carefree aesthetic that makes you want to just want to shut up and dance.
As a whole, the record feels pretty raw. The production itself is quite strong, but there are elements of Talking Is Hard that, however subtle, make it more rock than pop. Eli Maiman’s guitar riffs are loud and crunchy, and the tight melodic construction between the guitar and drums are natural rather than constructed. It doesn’t seem as if the band layered a vocal track atop a guitar and drum track. It is as if the band is playing live before our ears. Tight production may have made the band’s debut as sharp as it was, but this raw, full band, aspect to Talking Is Hard really brings it together, as what the band is able to do together is both intriguing and captivating. The attests the record’s clear ’80s vibe, built on strong musicianship rather than melodies and charisma alone.
In the two years since their debut record, Walk the Moon has found themselves playing with the likes of Panic! At the Disco (with whom I happened to see them with earlier this year), Young the Giant, and Fun. Considering the wide array of artists that the band has toured with in the past few years, it seems as if the band does not have a particular niche to conform with. Some may see this as a falling point for a band, but in reality, Walk the Moon is just really good job at arousing their fanbase. They’re hip enough to play in American Eagle or Hollister, accessible enough to gather a cult following amongst alternative and pop fans alike, and quite exciting as well. Walk the Moon is a unique animal in the current alternative scene, and Talking Is Hard is simply another affirmation of Walk the Moon’s strength as musicians. They pay tribute to their ’80s forefathers while bringing them here to 2014, which results in an addictive record to move around to. It is aptly named, as talking is hard, so we might as well dance instead.