It’s telling when a band lists as their influences “David Bowie, Talking Heads, The Killers, and Phil Collins”. It means the band is either a preternaturally diverse young talent, or name-dropping in an attempt to appear relevant. Listening to Walk The Moon’s third album What If Nothing, I fear the latter. There’s nothing that even approaches Bowie here, and David Byrne would shudder at the thought of inspiring such anodyne pop-rock.
Ever since their breakout hit Shut Up And Dance, Walk The Moon (self-consciously referencing The Police hit), have peddled a mix of indie synth-pop that’s seen them tour alongside Weezer, Panic! At The Disco, and Kaiser Chiefs. It’s business as usual for the band here, with an album perfectly soundtracking a millennial coming-of-age sex comedy. From the syncopated drum machine rhythms that make drummer Sean Waugaman seem redundant, to the interminable ‘way-oh’ backing choruses – this is coffee-shop indie ‘rock’ for people who find Phil Collins too edgy. With a slick production by Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Maroon 5), tracks seldom deviate from a relentlessly upbeat summer party mood.
On occasion Walk The Moon show a little edge – like on the Royal Blood-lite single Headphones – “Well, I can take a beating like a good pair of headphones / And I can stand the test of time like Harrison Ford”. Here, the band show their rockier side, with some angular guitars over an insistent drumbeat, and frontman Nicholas Petricca’s voice rises above its usual diffidence softness. Elsewhere, In My Mind recalls the upbeat Gallic pop of Phoenix, and reminds you why the band were chosen to update the theme song for 2016’s Ghostbusters movie. Overall though, the album is a light pop confection that leans too heavily on 80’s nostalgia and summer synth-pop. With its best moments sounding like off-cuts from better bands, there’s simply not enough uniqueness here to recommend. File under ‘Topman changing room music’.