Posts Tagged ‘Walking Like We Do’

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The British gang arrived like a breath of fresh air with their Mercury Prize nominated debut album Love In The 4th Dimension back in April 2017. Fronted by Juliette Jackson, The Big Moon unleashed song after song fizzing with melody and charm.

Now the Big Moon return with Walking Like We Do” which which was recorded in Atlanta alongside Grammy Award winning US Producer Ben H. Allen III (M.I.A./ Deerhunter / Bombay Bicycle Club). It’s a massive leap forward in production and songwriting. It’s a big pop album and the natural next step forward for the Big Moon.

As a record, Walking Like We Do finds The Big Moon at a thematic crossroads, swapping the more straightforward love songs of their debut album for thornier topics. Juliette’s lyrics throughout the album find the band trying to make sense of the world we live in, riding through instability and never quite shaking the feeling that anything could happen. The band firmly harnessed these fears, moulding them into a positive force, losing none of the excitement and joy that first brought them together and sees them creating the boldest and brightest music of their career.

Music video by The Big Moon performing It’s Easy Then (Visualiser). © 2019 Universal Music,

Ever since lead singer Juliette Jackson laid the foundations for the project, back in 2014, the London-based band have consistently gone with their gut, following what feels right rather than what’s easiest. At a time where guitar-based indie had fallen out of favour, they were credited with breathing new life into the genre, Impressive enough, even before you consider that – at the time of recording – the quartet were simultaneously performing backing band duties on Marika Hackman’s album, I’m Not Your Man.

A shared US tour followed that summer, during which they opened for and played back-up with Hackman every single night. Sat in an East London pub today, bassist Celia Archer still sounds awed recalling the reception they received, especially in the more remote areas of the country. “When you go to Milwaukee and there’s someone wearing your t-shirt, singing your songs…” she trails off, amazed.

Even recalling the moment their punishing schedule finally caught up with them, when drummer Fern Ford collapsed during soundcheck in Toronto, they make the experience sound character-building rather than catastrophic. ”My body gave up,” Ford grins. “I was just weeping, and my bones felt about 50 times the weight…” The fact they recall the manifold, minor touring dramas they’ve weathered together while shrieking with laughter, is testament to their friendship, which today is stronger than ever.

Recorded early 2019, in three and a half weeks – compared to the 12 days their debut took – Walking Like We Do represents a giant leap forward for The Big Moon. “Before we were more of a plug-in and play kind of a band, but these songs need a bit more,” Jackson explains. Frequently piano and keyboard-led rather than being reliant on grungey guitars, and rich in tight-knit vocal harmonies and rolling grooves, it’s a cinematic but innately hook-laden set that truly expands the band’s range.

That close bond stood them in good stead during the creation of their much-anticipated second album. As per its predecessor, Walking Like We Do was written entirely by Jackson. But where with Love in the 4th Dimension The Big Moon simply set songs they’d been performing live for the best part of two years to tape, this time every single aspect of each new song was undefined and up for debate.

When lead guitarist Soph Nathan cites the number of choices they had to make as one of the most challenging aspects of making the album, Archer chimes in to agree. “With these songs, it was like: we can take them in any direction. Any of them have the potential to be big singles.”

Jackson takes over, “For a while I think I was writing songs that were more like [those on] the first album because I felt like that’s what we should do. But after six months I knew I wanted it to be sonically bigger, deeper, wider and more spacious than a rock album. We wanted to let the songs breathe a bit more. And while we still wanted it to have energy and all the right feelings, we just wanted to be more creative with how you conjure a mood.”

“Walking Like We Do” out on January 10th.

The Big Moon

If life were fair, then things would be easier the second time around. But music history is littered with bands who have clattered headfirst into the hurdle marked ‘sophomore slump’. Not The Big Moon, though. You’ll find them soaring clear in the outside lane.

The London quartet’s debut LP, Love In The 4th Dimension, rode a quirky wave of guitar-pop to a Mercury Prize nomination back in 2017, and its follow up Walking Like We Do is a worthy successor that melds controlled experimentation with a road-tested understanding of what makes the band tick. Its fresh palette – soaring synths, ringing piano intros, stacked vocal harmonies – is a perfect fit that took a little getting used to.

“It was a new experience writing for an audience that already exists and expects something,” vocalist and guitarist Jules Jackson admits. “For a few months, I put too much pressure on myself. After a while, we realised we could make any kind of music, and we didn’t have to copy the first album. We could do anything. I felt a lot more freedom after that.”

After wrapping up touring on Love In The 4th Dimension, The Big Moon pressed pause. Guitarist Soph Nathan released an excellent record with Our Girl – an experience she equates to swapping brains – while Jackson eventually settled back into writing mode. The initial roadblocks she describes came from a place of over-familiarity. Specifically, they came from her guitar.

“It was quite a long process of trying to find new ways to write songs,” she says. “Every time I sat down and tried to write in the way that I always have done, I would write the same kind of song. Your hands go to the same shapes on the guitar, and you have the little things that you instinctively do. I started playing the piano a lot more.”

At the same time, Jackson was adjusting to writing from a fresh perspective. Like the rest of us, her world isn’t the same as it was three or four years ago, and Walking Like We Do acknowledges the weird, frightening landscape outside its window. “I don’t think I wanted to write an album that was all about distraction and forgetting,” she says. “There is definitely a time and a place for the right song to come into your life and give you a bit of a break from thinking or trying to articulate things, but you always crash down to earth in the end.

“When I was writing the first album I was falling head over heels in love, and that was all I cared about. Those songs were the sound of me trying to process that. The last couple of years, it feels like I’ve grown up and the world has changed. Things got a lot stranger, and I think this album is us trying to process that and translate it into something that makes sense. It doesn’t.”

Aided and abetted by Nathan and the rhythm section of Celia Archer and Fern Ford, who have parlayed their roles as bassist and drummer into multifaceted synth and sample work, Jackson eventually assembled an ambitious, melodically florid set of songs. With so much going on, room had to be made for the guitars that provided such a giddy rush on album one.

In a canny move, they sought to isolate them in empty pockets of space, dropping droning distortion over the outro of the opener It’s Easy Then, or twisting corkscrew riffs into the pop confection Why. On the loping, addictive single Your Light, the guitars are a clean, rhythmic counterpoint to the song’s driving pace. “Each guitar line has a reason behind it,” Nathan says. “With the first album, the instinct was to keep layering them.”

Jackson adds: “We really wanted to try new things, which does lead to picking and choosing where you put the guitar. On It’s Easy Then, there are none for the whole thing until the very last chorus. When Soph starts start playing – it’s like two notes – there’s so much emotion and joy because you haven’t had it yet. When you get a taste of it, it’s the best. It’s better than if you had played it for the whole song.”

Walking Like We Do was recorded in Atlanta with producer Ben H Allen III, who has worked alongside everyone from Deerhunter to Belle & Sebastian in the past. “We got on the phone and he was so excited about all of our demos,” Jackson says. “He had listened to them really deeply and sincerely loved them. He became like a fifth member of the band.” Nathan adds: “He was asking Jules about the lyrics, what they meant, what the intentions were for each song. He got into it before we even fully decided to go.”

Jackson and Nathan took their beloved guitars – a Gibson Les Paul Special Double Cut and a G&L ASAT Classic respectively – along for the ride and, when in the studio, also mingled with a handful of Telecasters, including one kitted out with a Bigsby tailpiece.

“They had the head of a Twin and a Vox AC30 in the control room,” Nathan says. “They’d link it up with different cabs. It was nice to be in the room and have the control with the head but also be able to just switch it out with lots of cabs and make different sounds. We normally use our own amps, but it just felt like there were so many options. You’d just keep going until you got the sound that felt right.”

Walking Like We Do is the sort of record that vindicates the choices made along the way. It doubles down on certain elements of The Big Moon’s style while boldly changing things up elsewhere. It feels right. “We’ve learnt we can be anything,” Jackson says. “As long as it’s us singing and us writing the lyrics and us writing the songs, we can play anything and do anything. It’ll sound like The Big Moon.”

Walking Like We Do by The Big Moon is out on 10th January on Fiction Records.