The most beautifully curated and executed cave of musical magpie gems
Sometimes one hears a newly released record where you feel like you’ve heard everything on it before. Now this can be because the songs feel like they have always existed, or should have done, and the crafting of the album feels very natural. In the other circumstance you find yourself navigating the LP in an uncomfortable stumble of déjà vu and lost memories.
Walking Like We Do fits both of these camps simultaneously. While my beer and age addled brain can’t pin down every track’s influence, inspiration or sampling – as it once could with terrifying accuracy – they are all there on the tip of my tongue or rather mental musical Rolodex instead. The album opener sounds like a mash up of Lana Del Ray and Billie Eilish’s vocal lines, the second a pastiche of Sleepwalking by The Chain Gang of 1974 and later A Hundred Ways to Land has echoes of Boomtown Rats and Do They Know it’s Christmas. These echoes, often unplaceable, run throughout the record. I’m sure more will come to me over time.
Sounds like a bad thing doesn’t it? Apart from the lingering feeling of an itch I can’t scratch, not really. The album is made up of a fantastic tracklist that is well curated and coherent. It is beautifully produced and has the familiarity of last seasons gloves regardless of what is described above. When thinking “this song sounds just like that one” one has to consider whether you’d rather listen to the original or the new one presented to you. The answer here in every case is “Nope, this is great thanks!”. Then you also ask yourself “yea, ok, but did you enjoy it?”. As a full record, this is in itself a preferred listen in its own right.
The opening track Its Easy Then picks you up from any place you may be in, greets you warmly, swaddles you up and settles you into the journey. Your Light, the lead single for the record, takes the baton and guides you up steady crescendos peaking at almost fist pumping euphoria by the time the “ah ah ah ah”s appear in the chorus.
Dog Eat Dog is a lower key piano and synth focussed number but with the harmonies in the vocal adding a positive sound through its less positive observations. Why has a joyful theme park ride lilt to it, swaying from side to side in joyful movement – a feeling evident in the chorus of the opening track and later on with the heavier Holy Roller.
With Don’t Think their indie rock band muscles begin to show but mislead you down the line between the jaunty folk pop vocal melodies over a driving rhythm section. One hears this and knows it’ll be a live highlight when they are out on the circuit this year. A track to fill the bigger spaces and ignite the smaller ones. Later in the record Take a Piece also fits this description but had a more piano driven melody with electric guitar taking on the rhythm.
Waves is akin to ADHD (the album closer) in taking a more pseudo sung not quite spoken word approach to its lyrics which while still sung, only really hit melodies when the lead singer is joined by her band-mates. It is not a style I’m particularly keen on – not only here but in general – as more often than not it feels jarring. It is even more uncomfortable when there are awkward words or musical phrasing. Of these tracks Waves is a pleasant technical exercise that while individually an interesting track, really for me serves as a break in the album. ADHD meanwhile feels awkward in the first verse or two but once it hits its stride makes up for its awkward opening working in all the ideas from the rest of the record and building into a lush and flamboyant exit to the album with its muted jazz trumpets and confetti canon, crowd singalong vocal lines.
The way the Big Moon seamlessly shift which of their instruments between sonic-narrative roles is something to be marvelled at on this record. Particularly on show on Take a Piece if you would like one to listen to very carefully. The album makes for an enchanting ensnarement of the listener taking a more folk-pop take on the sound established on their debut. Difficult second album syndrome seems to have not only eluded the band, they make it look easy. It is a high contender to be in the pile of records that are the better of the year in spite of the sense it is a magpie in disguise.