In the wake of the success of their crossover hit single "Shut Up and Dance," Ohio quartet Walk the Moon followed with their third full-length, What If Nothing. Less straightforward indie rock than past releases, the LP found the band experimenting with innovative textures and brighter production provided by Mike Elizondo, Captain Cuts, and Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Nothing But Thieves, the 1975). Fun and energetic, What If Nothing is Walk the Moon at its most technicolor, an escapist pop-indebted rock album packed front to back with potential singles. While not necessarily a groundbreaking offering, Nothing helps the band rise to the top of a contemporary pack that also includes bands like Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, OneRepublic, the 1975, and, most clearly, Bleachers. The sound and feel of that Jack Antonoff-fronted outfit is so present on What If Nothing that one might be shocked to learn that he had nothing to do with it (tracks like "One Foot," "All Night," "Tiger Teeth," and "Press Restart" could have been lifted straight from Bleachers' debut, Strange Desire). Elsewhere, the band give respectful nods to '80s acts like INXS ("All I Want"), Erasure ("Surrender"), and Phil Collins (the sprawling "Sound of Awakening"). In addition to that latter track -- a bold move on the band's typically safe-sounding part -- standout "Headphones" offers the heaviest rock moment on What If Nothing. Jerky and elastic, it's packed with attitude and a Muse-worthy riff breakdown that sounds like Royal Blood gone full pop. With all these comparisons to other bands, Walk the Moon might run the risk of losing themselves in the process. However, with frontman Nick Petricca's distinctive vocals tying it all together, the album remains a cohesive statement from Walk the Moon. Even as the band peppers their sound with various genre flourishes, they simply serve to spice up the proceedings. Since their pop culture legacy has been secured with "Shut Up and Dance" -- destined to be a wedding reception favorite for all eternity -- the band are free to do what they want. Because of this, What If Nothing is immensely enjoyable and liberating, a satisfying dose of passionate abandon.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung