2020 music arrived in a big way on 10th January. It was the first proper Friday for releases for the year and we were treated to not just one but two potentially significant albums for the year, if not the decade.
And who were they from? As we have been banging on about at Picky Bastards, in case you missed it, there is one half of the population that has been smashing it, musically speaking, for the last ten years. These two albums are a sure sign that this trend is going to continue into the 20s and beyond.
The first was from Georgia, but I’ll let Sam tell you all about that.
The second was Walking Like We Do from The Big Moon.
Like single ‘Take A Piece’, which I picked as my best listen for December, the album is full of pop hooks. They’re not all super immediate though, and after a few listens I found I was questioning why I didn’t realise this catchy brilliance straight away. It’s only a small effort, but it is particularly rewarding and I think it demonstrates the strength of the songwriting that it isn’t so obvious. It’s more layered than you realise.
And again, like in ‘Take A Piece’, there are plenty more moments where the band’s singer and songwriter Juliette Jackson remains optimistic in the face of prevailing despondency. The weight of expectation (“I’m bored of being capable, I just need somewhere to be vulnerable”), break ups, friends moving away and the general struggle of life in a city that “walks all over you” are themes for songs that sound much happier than you would expect given the content.
I’ve been listening to this album at least once a day for the last week and it still continues to improve and with each listen and reveal I find something that is new to me. This is particularly true of the lyrics.
It’s full of snippets of life that are so relatable:
“Feel like I missed an episode”
“I walk into a room and forget why”
And some lyrical gems like:
“We just hang around like a haircut growing out”
“They say it’s dog eat dog round here
It’s more like pigeon eating fried chicken, on the street”
“and tragedies eventually turn into memes”
“I only saw the differences, I didn’t see the change…I never saw the tide come in, I only saw the waves”
‘Don’t Think’ is, on one hand, an anthem for everyone’s inner Jez from Peep Show. On the other it’s an empowering message to trust your experience and instincts. Nick has written of obsession with sounds and tone and I’m channelling a little of that with my obsession with the way Juliette sings the Ds in “ADHD”. It’s hard to put into writing but I don’t think anyone had sung a consonant quite like it, ever.
Juliette also knows exactly where to mix up her urbane insights with the more banal and stick an “ooh ooh” in just the right place. ‘Your Light’, ‘Barcelona’, and ‘A Hundred Ways To Land’ in particular are punctuated by arena-sized-singalong-ready backing vocals. This band are heading for the big time.
In fact all the elements of the band seem very capably measured to be just right. It’s a Goldilocks album. Arguably, the production is the only exception. There are a couple of places on this album where just because they could (in the words of Jeff Goldblum) they didn’t stop to think whether or not they should. It really is only a couple of places though and if that’s the worst thing I can say about Walking Like We Do then there is very little to worry about.
With Walking Like We Do, The Big Moon have shown us they are more than capable. I think they’ve nailed vulnerable too.
Words by James Spearing