This is a difficult second album, but not for the reasons you might expect. The difficulty is one that will surely afflict every writer of a pop song in 2020. Should they reflect the unique and troubled times in which we live, or should they proceed with blissful ignorance, offering their listeners a burst of escapism?
Walking Like We Do finds The Big Moon somehow ticking both those boxes, in a manner which is in no way contrived. The quartet had enough confidence in their new songs to give them a first airing at last year’s Glastonbury, and the studio polish applied to the finished articles by producer Ben Allen keeps that living and breathing live element but adds extra poise and control.
The music is positive; cultured and resourceful pop nuggets that reveal more of their treasures through repeated listening. The same can be said for the lyrics, which initially find singer Juliette Jackson in confessional mood. “I’m so bored of being capable,” she admits in the first couplet of It’s Easy Then, “I need somewhere to be vulnerable”.
To counter this the band’s music offers strength from within, with punchy rhythms, lithe bass and widescreen productions that offer both clarity and depth. Your Light brews this blend to perfection, capturing the hope on which the album is built. A confident and classy song, it complains of how “this planet never needed gravity to drag you down”, but ends up positively glowing as “days like this I forget my darkness and remember your light”.
Holy Roller builds on this with a call to arms. “I’m gonna start a religion for all the kids with nothing left to believe in,” sings Jackson, while on A Hundred Ways To Land she delivers the lyrics that give the album its title. “We don’t know where we’re going but we’re walking like we do”.
There is no obvious filler on the album either. Don’t Think has a winsome quality and one of the catchiest tunes, while the combination of escapism and vulnerability is at its clearest in Barcelona. A quick dash for the sun, it is determined to have a good time against the odds.
With strong tunes, great vocals and a spring in their step, The Big Moon are not struggling for a creative spark – far from it. Rather they offer a solution to the uncertainties and anxieties of a new year, telling us that it’s OK to feel the pinch but to embrace it, look up and move on in the knowledge that others have been here before. It’s back to Your Light for the inspiration here. “Maybe it’s an end cause this don’t feel like a start,” Jackson sings of a new relationship, “but every generation probably thought they were the last”.
Releasing the first high profile album in a new decade brings with it a sense of responsibility. The Big Moon thrive on this, setting out a positive stall as they pick up the baton for what we hope will be a strong year in British pop. The ’20s are off to good start.