Walk the Moon balances misery and merry-making
Even when Walk the Moon swings to the dark side, the band doesn’t seem like the kind of group that spends a lot of time wondering why the world is such a miserable and unforgiving place.
Look beneath the surface, and the Cincinnati-spawned quartet’s eponymous, major-label debut contains moments guaranteed to resonate with those for whom Manic Depressive Black is the only colour of nail polish that matters. Take, for example, “Lisa Baby”, which finds frontman Nicholas Petricca singing lines like “My baby is a mess” and “When my baby wears a dress it’s like she’s not even a human being”. But such lyrics are quickly tempered with follow-up lines such as “My baby is a dancing queen”, the needle further moved toward good vibes and great times by a musical approach that’s mostly made for dancing like John Hughes never died.
Reached at a Los Angeles tour stop, Walk the Moon bassist Kevin Ray suggests that he and his bandmates have far more good days than bad.
“I don’t know if we’d be capable of writing completely sad, down music,” he says. “We are four happy guys who’ve got a lot of support from a great fan base, and great families and friends. We’re always in a great mood and feeling pretty good about where we are headed. So even though there are dark moments when it comes to lyrical content, it’s usually presented in more of an upbeat way.”
Ray and his bandmates have every reason to be feeling pretty great about themselves. On the day the bassist hooks up with the Straight he’s just coming off a European tour, the jet lag he’s feeling doing nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for getting paid to travel overseas. Career highlights have seen Walk the Moon make major television appearances on shows like Late Show With David Letterman and Last Call With Carson Daly, celebrate Lollapalooza’s 20-year anniversary with a main-stage slot, and land soundtrack placements on shows such as The Vampire Diaries. Just as exciting has been jumping from opening for Gotye and Weezer to headlining its own tours.
“It might sound clichéd to say this, but we are really, really excited with where we are at today,” Ray says. “I think we all have this mutual laundry list of things that we want to check off. Every now and then we get to do that, whether it’s getting on television or playing a big festival or touring in Europe. That we’ve been able to do some of those things has made us completely content and happy.”
That upbeatness colours the guitar-pop-swirled Walk the Moon, which, thanks to a big-budget production from producer Ben Allen (Matt and Kim, Gnarls Barkley), finds a smart balance between art and radio-friendly commerce. Clever touches include “Shiver Shiver” starting out as a moody post-punker before upshifting into Prince-like pervert-funk territory, and the way “Quesadilla” is all twinkling neon-coloured synths and retro-candy-coated choruses until a tidal wave of computer squiggles and squelches drowns out everything halfway through.
Mostly what you hear is the sound of a band having a good time, updating the ’80s for modern guitar-pop fans. Ray is happy to report that enthusiasm spills over to live shows big on audience participation—the group often hitting the stage smeared in makeup, fans showing up looking exactly the same.
“It’s nice to be doing headlining shows now where everyone is singing along with us—that’s really a new thing for us,” the bassist says. “People actually have a shred of a clue who we are. That’s kind of a new experience.”
Walk the Moon plays Venue on Saturday (November 24).
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