Walk the Moon are one of America’s most underrated rock bands, to be sure. They are best known in North America and Europe, of course, for their 2014 smash hit “Shut up and Dance” (US and UK #4). Fans of alternative rock radio may also remember their debut single “Anna Sun,” which got some heat back in 2012. Somehow, though, they are yet another act that people, oddly, moved on from despite having a canon of great music before and after their trip to the top of charts.
It could be their ‘80s-friendly sound, but the Weeknd and loads of others take inspo from that decade to rave reviews. It could be the part of the ‘80s Walk the Moon sound like, particularly on this album, that’s the problem. “Giants” is a good example. It’s straight-up late post-new wave ‘80s radio rock. At the time, that sound was a little suspect, so it’s not surprising it would give people pause now. Distilled from the decade, though, it’s a wonderful journey back in time. And “Giants” is a great tune.
However, it’s not as great as the album’s lead single, “Can You Handle My Love?” A slow builder, it breaks into a hook-laden pop gem. Song of the year in 2021 for me. How this didn’t bother the charts is beyond me, but I gave up second-guessing popular taste long ago.
A wonderful surprise is a track called “Fire In Your House,” featuring the brilliant British/South African artist Johnny Clegg and his son Jesse. It was the last track the elder Clegg worked on before we lost him in 2019 to pancreatic cancer. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on Walk the Moon, they roll out a little world music influence.
It’s not all Reagan-era beats, though. “DNA (The Keys),” from the title, sounds like it should be, but it’s a much more contemporary number as is the softer “Don’t Make Me.” If it’s a Gospel-inspired track you’re looking for, try “Rise Up.” Not to worry. By the time the album ends, it’s back from the future with the fine “Population of Two” to close things out.
There are a lot of acts out there that release a song or album that takes a few months to catch on, either through the use of their music in an ad or as part of a movie or TV soundtrack. Here’s to Walk the Moon getting back into people’s ears and the charts soon.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.