Comparing Walk It Off to the band's sly debut, The Loon, is bound to create undue turmoil. The formerly jittery, casual rockers have abandoned some of their tossed-off charm and replaced it with a dire, roaring sound that suits them. Take "Conquest," a twittering number of throbbing bass and Talking Heads paranoia. There's nothing cute about it; instead, it's fantastic in its ferocity.
This is not to say the band has become oppressively intense. The opening cacophonous rush of "Le Ruse" is pure fun, and "Hang Them All" dances cleverly around haunted electronics and a spiky guitar. In fact, the opening stretch of the album is extremely enjoyable; it's the histrionics of "Blunt" that signal the slump, followed directly by the tepid "George Michael."
Ultimately, the group manages to redeem itself on closer "The Dirty Dirty," a driving, grimy and explosive barnburner. The only major complaint is that some songs rely too heavily on repetition, yet on an album of pop tunes--albeit fuzzy ones--this seems appropriate.