By Christa Bandoni
The Ohio alternative band, Walk the Moon recently came out with their third album, What If Nothing and as usual, fans of all amounts of dedication had their own personal critiques. Even before the album’s physical release, it seemed as if everyone who I knew that liked Walk the Moon had their own opinion and expectations on what the upcoming album would be like. Ranging from pure adoration to complete disgust, the personal opinions and desires were easily all over the board. Now that What If Nothing is officially released, I took the time to ask five Walk the Moon fans their thoughts on the new album and if it in fact lived up to those initial expectations.
Heart Eyes: When you heard “One Foot,” what was your initial reaction?
Magdelaine: When I listened to “One Foot” for the first time, I felt a sense of warmth. It was the welcoming of a new era in their music, an era in which I had been anticipating.
Rachel: My first reaction when I heard “One Foot” was pure excitement! I remember getting in my car after a dance practice to find it had already been released a bit early, so I quickly plugged in my aux cord and blasted it on repeat the entire drive home. Upon first listen, I was a little hesitant, because it was not what I was initially expecting and was definitely a new sort of sound I had not heard from Walk the Moon before. However, it immediately made me want to dance and sing at the top of my lungs, which is how all WTM songs make me feel, and I could absolutely picture the boys performing it live, which made me even more excited to have this single released!
Lindzey: My initial reaction was “It’s okay, but it’s not something I’m going to show off to my friends.” It didn’t have an impressive and new unique sound; it also wasn’t something that would stick out to me on the radio.
Brenna: When I heard “One Foot,” I was super excited to hear the entire album. It has this sort of electric vibe to it that just sounds like pure happy energy and joy.
Tori: Of course, my first reaction was “Oh my god, this is my band and they’re back.” I immediately started jamming in my room. It reminded me of their sophomore album Talking Is Hard, but with a more mellow twist. The lyrics alone made me realize that the band is moving forward, and that makes me happy.
Heart Eyes: What were your expectations for the album after hearing the singles?
R: Honestly, I went into the album with no major expectations from the singles. The single’s were all individual in their own lovely way, from the infectious pop of “One Foot” and “Kamikaze,” to the absolute frenzy of “Headphones” and the soul-wrenching lyrics of “Surrender,” so I didn’t feel like I could compare them or get a feel for what the album might be like. I didn’t quite know how the album would tie all the singles together, seeing as they were all so different, but this mindset only peaked my curiosity for the What If Nothing. The only expectation I had was for What If Nothing to be completely unique, which it absolutely accomplished!
L: I expected it to all sound similar throughout the entire album, because the singles were pretty bland. The singles all sounded identical, and none really stuck out to me and impressed me. If I didn’t know it was Walk the Moon, I would have probably skipped it on the radio if it had just come on.
T: After “Surrender,” I knew we were getting self-titled/Anna Sun EP, but new and better. I knew they were releasing “Tiger Teeth,” which we have all been waiting for for the past five or six years, so in a way, we kind of knew what we were getting with that album, or at least we thought we knew. I knew in my heart that the album would be authentically Walk the Moon, no crazy pop-sellout mess.
Heart Eyes: Did the album live up to your expectations?
R: The album far surpassed any expectations I might have had. It’s exhilarating when your favorite band announces a new album after three years, but along with that thrill also comes a bit of anxiety. You, of course, expect and want more than anything to love it wholeheartedly, but you just truly don’t know what it will be like until the album is physically released into the world, which is a slightly scary thought when waiting. For me, the wait was absolutely worth it a million times over. From the minute “Press Restart” kicks off the album with its dizzying beats to the second “Lost in the Wild” fades out like the setting summer sun so easily imagined while listening, What If Nothing takes the listener on a journey full of emotion, exploration, and wonder. You can feel the raw passion, sentiment, and love that Nick, Kevin, Sean, and Eli each poured into this album throughout every song, which is what makes it such a special album to me. It is completely different that anything Walk the Moon has released before, yet it never loses their signature sound/groove and feel of nostalgia that I often find when listening to their previous works. This shows such growth and artistry within the band while still staying true to who they are, both as a combined group and individually. The album is real, honest, and doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, kicking off this new era of Walk the Moon with an explosion of life that I cannot wait to see evolve within the upcoming months.
B: What If Nothing definitely did live up to my expectations. The crazy guitar solos, the heavy bass, the fantastic drum fills, and the wonderful vocals were so good and kept up with each other, as well as having the tracks run together so smoothly.
T: The album absolutely lived up to my expectations. After they released “Kamikaze,” I knew that the album would be solid. The one “problem” I think was “Tiger Teeth.” We expected it to be really emotional and raw with heavier instrumentals for emphasis because that’s how we have heard it live in the past. It kind of turned into this very perfect smooth synthy version of itself in order to fit album. While it’s not what we expected, it’s all good because it flows perfectly with the rest of an album.
Heart Eyes: If you could, would you change anything about the album? If so, what?
T: There’s nothing that I would change, because it flows perfectly, and like I said before, it’s authentic and raw. However, they could have done some more real instruments and maybe had more drums in a couple of the songs.
L: Make it more blatantly honest and have the songs sound different from one another.
M: I would not change any part of the album.
Heart Eyes: In your opinion, what is the best part of the album?
M: The best part of the album is the feelings it evokes. What if Nothing welcomes you with warmth after a long day filled with stress. It gives you energy to dance obnoxiously in your car and the confidence to love yourself. Walk the Moon could not have picked a more perfect time to release an album.
R: To me, the best part of What If Nothing is the sheer diversity. There is such a range in sound within each of the songs, and you truly don’t know what to expect as the album progresses. There are definitely 80’s-inspired moments, similar to what we’ve seen before on Talking is Hard, such as the Phil Collins-esque build up in “Sound of Awakening” and the slow, steady groove within “Tiger Teeth.” However, the band also experiments with more of a hip-hop sound in “Press Restart” and more polished electronics in “Feels Good to Be High.” The juxtaposition of the elements used throughout the album perfectly blends musical elements from the past, present, and even future, making this an album perfectly suited for the right here and now.
L: I like the obscureness of the sound especially in “Sound of Awakening;” it reminds me of Kid A by Radiohead. It creates this sense of confusion, but in a good way and leaves the meaning open to interpretation and experience.
B: I think the best part of the album is just the sound, let me elaborate. I think you can hear how happy they are, but also the sadness in some of the songs. You can hear their progression from this album from their first. They’ve grown so much musically and still produce music that sounds so true to them while taking a step into a new realm, which is what I think they did best with this album.
T: The composition hands down. The order of this album is beautifully crafted. I feel like they really thought hard about what they were saying and how the wanted to portray a message. It starts off with “Press Restart,” which is a banger, and then kind of slows down and gets into these heartfelt songs. Then, there’s “Sound of Awakening,” which really breaks up the album. From there, the feel-good songs begin and leave you with a good taste in your mouth, and it makes you want to listen to the album all over again.
From this interview it is easy to conclude that while What If Nothing may not have lived up to the expectations of all of their fans, the one thing they can agree on is that Walk The Moon did produce an exceptional album.