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‘What If Nothing’ review: Walk the Moon’s catchy pop-tinged rock

Walk the Moon's

Walk the Moon's "What If Nothing" Credit: RCA

WALK THE MOON

“What If Nothing”

BOTTOM LINE Keeping rock alive on pop radio.

Walk the Moon is practically an endangered species in the music industry these days. It’s a rock band that gets played on pop radio.

The Cincinnati-based quartet owned the pop airwaves in the summer of 2015 with the inescapable “Shut Up and Dance” — stomping, upbeat rock that crystallized their particular combination of new-new-wave and current pop to create something irresistible. With its new album, “What If Nothing” (RCA), Walk the Moon picks up exactly where it left off.

The first single, “One Foot,” is another stomping chant, as singer Nicholas Petricca offers, “Got your back, if you’ve got mine, one foot in front of the other.” “One Foot” has already hit the Top 10 on the alternative rock charts and is destined for the pop charts. And Walk the Moon provides plenty more catchy, pop-tinged rock beyond that, including the gorgeous “Surrender,” with its gurgling, ’80s-influenced synth line, and “All Night,” which incorporates a bit of Imagine Dragons into its heavily syncopated verses.

However, the band is clearly also looking to stretch. “Press Restart,” which utilizes Petricca’s falsetto nicely, as well as some ambitious rhythms from drummer Sean Waugaman, sounds epic as it moves from Jon Bellion-like dreaminess to pointed funk from guitarist Eli Maiman. It’s no wonder the band has named its upcoming tour after the song. “Lost in the Wild” steps up the band’s lyrical game, with Petricca singing poetic lines like “Morning breaks like splattered paint” and “Flashes of the night come rushing in, in a stampede of misbehaviors.”

It’s a heady leap forward for the band that has succeeded with its simplicity. In “What If Nothing,” Walk the Moon continues to hone its sound to keep rock attractive to pop listeners, but it also provides surprises like the prog rock of “Sound of Awakening” — a sure sign that they aren’t ready to simply shut up and dance.

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