Indie contortionists Walking Shapes traverse a variety of genres on their sophomore effort, Taka Come On. It’ll be their debut album, however, as the band’s prior release was a 13-track mixtape. They wanted it to generate some buzz, the band told fourculture Magazine, promising, “Songs flow like water with this band.” Such is typically the case during a group’s honeymoon period, but two years later, Walking Shapes still has it. And now they have the industry hype to cushion this album drop.
After four weeks of recording in a Soho basement studio, the band set out on a two-month east coast tour before swinging out west. They’ll be at Brick + Mortar Music Hall on Sunday, April 6; it’s a set in the midst of a non-stop, five-day spree of California, beginning April 3 in Los Angeles and ending April 8 in Phoenix, Arizona. Walking Shapes will be playing in support of Moscow-based Pompeya.
Preceding the album is the band’s debut single “Whoa Tiger.” The accompanying video, a black and white Super 8mm film by Adam Wallace, spans the landscape of New York City, home of the evidently talented Brooklyn band. Aurally, a glamorous, “out of control” guitar hook is bolstered by dark undertones and Christopher Heinz’s arrant snare drum. Needless to say, it’s the beginning of our “soft spot” for the quintet’s musical versatility.
Taka Come On exemplifies that versatility. All of the other four members contribute vocals to the album, layered in some way or another on each track. “Milo’s Shell” is standard dance-punk fare, but Taka Come On’s third track, “Find Me” takes a turn for the folksy, featuring Jesse Kotanksy on violin and frontman Nathaniel Hoho on acoustic guitar. Keyboardist Jacob Generalli jumps in with some mandolin sounds. They effectively transform into a collective Bon Iver for three minutes. Hoho sings:
“Look on me when things seem bad
Oh, dreaming of places
Oh, dreaming of times
In your heart in your mind
And find me”
At this point, it’s difficult to tell if Taka Come On is front-loaded or simply just loaded. Driving bass courtesy of Dan Krysa and a plucked guitar hook keep “Winter Fell” tight until the two-minute mark. Then the layers decompose into something altogether more organic, or something of a mess (depending on the listener’s opinion of the material thus far) for 17 seconds before re-entering its familiar chorus. The fourth track isn’t a full departure from “Find Me,” but it steers the album towards a Phoenix-esque sound.
And then ADHD strikes Walking Shapes again on “Mussolini,” a more committed exploration of unconventional harmonies, along with shimmering violin and vibrato. If “Mussolini” were a tree, it’d be an aspen exposed to light breeze. Later, “(no)” experimentally intersperses volume sliders, vinyl scratching, and chordal synth stabs between sequences of consonance. The track is a hit or miss – once again, it’ll depend on the listener’s response to the rest of the album, but be warned: Taka Come On’s hooks and obscurities will grow on you like an infectious weed.
Like a symphonic I-Spy game, “Feel Good” is host to a diverse selection of sound effects. Can you spot the phone ring, the window washing, and the “Mysterious Ways” sample? They verge on distracting when combined with the off-beat handclaps, but in the end, the track wins out as an intricately-arranged treasure trove.
Abutting the expected wind-down, “Chinatown” throws the listener back into the paint bucket, and then proceeds to brush him back and forth across an orchestral canvas with vigour; cue a travel montage, and maybe some fireworks. It turns out Taka Come On‘s loaded and “The Right Time” simply ends it all. But not after the first two minutes of the song–there’s a psyche ending if we ever saw one. With a built-in encore of sorts, “The Right Time” comes back full-force for another minute or so after the false stop.
In fact, we expect Taka Come On to be a psyche ending. If Walking Shapes can indeed turn water into wine, they’ll be buzzing high off this album and its tour into the next one. Be sure to check their upcoming dates, and if you’re reading from San Francisco, we’ll see you at Brick + Mortar next Sunday. Also, here’s a dope cover of “Lost” from their debut mixtape, which can be downloaded free of charge via the No Shame label.
Taka Come On will be available on April 8 via No Shame.
Article by Joanna Jiang