More about: The Big Moon
What do you do when you’ve already written an excellent guitar album? Something so good that it won a Mercury nomination and had you playing all over the world to fans who knew all the words to all of your songs? You write something different.
The Big Moon have certainly done that with Walking Like We Do. Pushing guitars to the back, it's a record that's still alight with the special songwriting talent of Juliette Jackson, though different in almost every other way. Bright and ethereal in places, it’s a brave leap for the group. But it doesn’t inspire the same delight as its wildly popular predecessor.
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On 2016’s Love In The 4th Dimension, The Big Moon blew their contemporaries out of the water with big, bolshy indie pop hits. On Walking Like We Do, due almost four years later on 10 January, that youthful cinema has been replaced by a more serious brand of pop.
Lead singles ‘It’s Easy Then’ and ‘Your Light’ open the door to a new, expansive, tauter sound peppered with beautiful harmonies and sparing use of piano and synth. They’re the gorgeous, freeing, luscious sounds upon which the entire album places its hopes, and in themselves, they are an extraordinary feat of pop writing.
‘Take A Piece’, too, is an ecstatic slice of chart-tickling genius, with its nostalgic melodies and cheeky instrumental dialogues. ‘A Hundred Ways To Land’ harks back to the optimism and sureness of self of Love In The 4th Dimension and 'Barcelona' half goes there too.
With ‘Dog Eat Dog’ though, The Big Moon hit a snag: how to translate that new drive into a ballad? Their first new offering on the album is a pleasant listen, but ultimately forgettable. The problem persists on ‘Holy Roller’, which has a gorgeous vocal hook (a knack of Jackson’s) but part-drowns in dreary organ. It’s the same on ‘Why’, which could have flown on guitars, but instead gets caught in plinky promenade keys and muddy synth. ‘Don’t Think’ and ‘Waves’ suffer a similar fate. Perhaps they could have worked better if separated, but here they are obscured by chapters of musical experimentation that read the same from page to page.
These are criticisms reluctantly levelled at a band who exude optimism and joie de vivre with every live performance and single release. Here, as always, there is plenty to love. As ever, Jackson’s lyrics are a source of endless delight: “Every new thought shoves the other aside” she sings on ‘It’s Easy Then’, musing on the relatable in ‘Don’t Think’ with, “Ignoring all your shy mates and trailing in the wake of the loud ones”.
Walking Like We Do is a bold move for The Big Moon, and ultimately, it will likely prove a smart one thanks to its leap in artistic vision. But right now though, the dream pop route falls short.
Walking Like We Do is released on 10 January 2020 via Fiction Records.
More about: The Big Moon