How could The Big Moon followed up their 2017 Mercury Music Prize-nominated debut ‘Love in a 4th Dimension’? The band’s chief songwriter Jules Jackson said in a recent interview that she planned on penning “the same kind of rock songs” again – and had made the first steps to do so. But plaudits and a fiercely loyal fanbase emboldened Jackson to experiment for album number two. “I’ve been trying to push myself to find ways to make songs feel great without going to clichés,” she later told NME. “We wanted to explore our extremes.”
As well as exploring pastures new, ‘Walking Like We Do’ features enough of the grit and gall of its predecessor. Where ‘Love in a 4th Dimension’’s indie-rock songs saw the London band stick two fingers up at “guitar-music-is-dead” bores, their new record is an embrace of evolution. Squalling guitar licks remain, as do their multi-part harmonies, but keys and synths now open the majority of songs. New, looser spaces are filled by flute and brass. Lyrics have a broader, outward gaze.
‘It’s Easy Then’, the album’s lead single released last August, was the harbinger of this fresh sound and remains one of the album’s strongest tracks. Piano, call-and-response vocals and a gloopy synth line congeal for an oddly anthemic ode to life as “one big panic attack”. “Just keep on breathing in / I’m breathing out / Swear the air is thicker than / It used to be,” sings Jackson with Soph Nathan (lead guitar), Celia Archer (bass) and Fern Ford (drums) in tow.
Elsewhere, ‘Dog Eat Dog’ sees Jackson ruminate on the rat race world we inhabit, resulting in the album’s funniest lyrics: “They say it’s like dog eat dog but / It’s more like pigeon eaten fried chicken on the street”. An operatic vibrato sample haunts the song, cooing beside rattling drums and spectral organ chords. ‘Why’ opens as a seaside jaunt but becomes a tale of heartbreak, its piano notes punctured by Nathan’s growling guitar and unnerving stabs of arcade synths.
‘Walking Like We Do’ falters in its second half, which offers fewer creative and catchy bangers (‘ADHD’, ‘Holy Roller’ and the half-cooked ‘Take A Piece’ all underwhelm). ‘Barcelona’, thankfully, comes into its own at the end with heady layers of guitar, flute and a choral refrain about the perils of growing older.
But it’s ‘Your Light’, which advocates letting go from your troubles, that hints at an even brighter future for this London bunch. It’s the apex of The Big Moon old and new: zippy guitars and knotted harmonies meet electronic whirrs and propulsive, disco-lite beats. They’ve certainly made interesting, bolder leaps than before with this second record. We’re ready to jump in again.
Release date: January 10
Record label: Fiction Records