[Self-released; 2013]

Take a look at WALLA’s Soundcloud page and you’ll notice quite a significant difference between the play counts of the songs from their recently released Nature EP and their Animal of Love EP that preceded it. While one could say that this simply down to some effective publicity management, it seems more accurate to put this down to the fact that WALLA’s latest output is noticeably better. While the songs from Animal of Love were promising upon their initial release, it was the sound of a band finding its footing. With five different members from impressively widespread locations (Mexico/El Salvador, Italy, Indonesia, Brazil, Korea), there was a lot of influence to feed off from. They managed to put out songs with hooks and likeability, but that fusing of minds was yet to come.

Second time round, WALLA hit the nail on the head. The production of Josh Monroy undoubtedly has a significant role here, putting the four tracks here through the channels of a shiny studio, acting almost as the band’s sixth member here. As a consequence, the brightest moments of Nature shine like blinding strobe lights at a party. EP highlight “Crazy World” and it’s falsetto-led chorus sounds like the most refreshing summer moment to come this year while also being a track it’s impossible to not move to. Comparisons to Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos are inevitable, and if you’re looking for something to wean you off of Gossamer, or just the next best thing to move onto, then you’d be hard pressed to say “Crazy World” isn’t just that.

It is that sheen that makes it though; the sound that is cast over these four songs is the kind that does sound like it has come from a mixing board with thousands of dials. But before that, it sounds like music that has come from the heart. When “Nature” jumps into the final lap full of energetic hiccupping guitars, noodling synths and up-an-octave chorus lines, it’s the sound of real momentum created by a band that has a driving and focused impetus. The other two tracks here don’t quite equal the vitality of “Nature” and “Crazy World,” but they help frame these two tracks, if not showing that that the five-piece can slide easily between more guitar-driven moments (the Phoenix-like chug on “Neon Love”) and rave-ready synth riffs (opening track “No Time,” before it serves up a quietly ambitious, if not almost anthemic chorus).

As sugary as this stuff is (and it can feel very syrupy when you’re dancing about in your living room to “Crazy World,” which may or may have not been me these past few weeks gone by after first hearing the track), there is substance here too. “Nature” has lead singer Jonathan Hoonch Kim singing with about finding out if “nature really make[s] us that way?” before climaxing with a delivery that has him sounding like he’s somewhere between precipitousness, revelation, and sheer joy, asking, “Does nature really care tonight?” It’s a sentiment that can wiggle its way into the philosophical side of things while also acting as a line that partying-until-dawn people can sing along to while trashing up some place of natural beauty. I’m not implying the band condone the destruction of forests, or anything like that, but merely that the joy of life (or music) can coexist, no matter what our intended purposes might be on this earth. Even the EP cover depicts a sort of nativity-like Eden where tapes, records, and CDs are part of the grassy land.

Also up on the band’s Soundcloud is a pair of pleasant and somewhat informative interviews which reveal the band to be a down to earth, but intent in their purpose to follow the path made by the joy of creating music. Nature, as a whole, is a sort of mission statement that shows what happens when you bring together minds from all over, and how they can come together to seep in their influences, but also keep things (for a band on their second minor release, that is) extraordinary tight. Whether or not nature cares is a question beyond my reach, but as those play counts increase, it’s hard to deny that people out there definitely care – and definitely want to listen to the music of WALLA.