Words by Daniel Baker
Cover Image Credit Neelam Khan Vela Hi-Res Download
New wave, hyper-pop, glam pop, goth rock. It’s all on show on Walt Disco’s eclectic debut offering, Unlearning. With a range of influences, boxing the Scottish six-piece into the confines of any particular genre would be senseless. They exist in a world of their own creation, complete with glimmering visuals and an aesthetic to make Boy George or Adam Ant feel underdressed.
For a band at the beginning of their journey, Walt Disco already have a loyal and diverse following of welcoming fans, embracing the band’s message of hope and queer acceptance. This message of queer acceptance permeates through the album from the outset. ‘Weightless’ is a riotous, synth-laden opener with a powerful message. “It’s not too late to start” powerfully encapsulates lead singer, James Power’s journey of coming to terms with and exploring their own gender identity and sexuality. ‘Weightless’ places the bar very high for the following 11 songs to contend. But there’s no filler here, a rarity to be commended, especially on a debut offering. Follow up track, 80s pop inspired ‘Selfish Lover’ departs from the dark synths of ‘Weightless’, with a bouncy glam chorus not dissimilar to Duran Duran’s, Rio (Duran Duran have invited the band along to support them on more than one occasion). However, Walt Disco really come into their own on the album’s latter half, after half-time instrumental track ‘The Costume Change’. ‘Those Kept Close’ and ‘If I Had A Perfect Life’ give Power the chance to show off their impressive high-tenor vocal range with a refreshingly dark hyper-pop backdrop.
Walt Disco have drawn many comparisons to 80s icons, and it is easy to see why. But they are best appreciated without drawing comparisons to those of the past. They are, if anything, forerunners of a newer, fresher movement of indie art-pop, one that sets them miles apart from their peers. This is an album that confidently pushes the boundaries of what pop music can do, and the pay off is brilliantly and unapologetically overindulgent.
Hot on the heels of an acclaimed run of shows at Texas’ SXSW festival, Walt Disco play Clwb Ifor Bach in support of their debut on 13th April.
Get your tickets here.
Listen to Unlearning here.