I tried not to gush too much about this, and if you don’t fancy reading the entirety of this review; all you need to know about this album is that it is brilliant, and you need to hear it as soon as you can.
Initially starting out as Aaron Bruno’s solo project and then evolving into a fully-fledged outfit, AWOLNATION has always had a firm grasp on the alternative ladder. Their debut album, Megalithic Symphony, was declared a hit by fans and critics alike, bolstered by the strength of the mammoth single, Sail. Today, I’m taking an early look at the new album, Here Come the Runts by AWOLNATION. Full to the brim with fantastic tunes, AWOLNATION attempt to confront the question on everyone’s mind; will this album maintain form and replicate the success of its predecessors? My money is on a resounding yes.
We burst straight into the record with the titular track, Here Come the Runts. Already, I’m floored by the music – the opener features a chaos of instruments that overwhelms and impresses on all fronts. I can already picture sold-out venues thrashing about to this track, with the whole crowd moving. Here Come the Runts is built and composed in a really cool way, and I’ll be featuring it on our playlist for February. I personally enjoy everything about this song; the pacing, the stampeding guitar and it’s Run to the Hills-esque tone… overall, impeccable songwriting.
Passion amps up the distortion and hits the mark as a more traditional alternative song (if there is such a thing as ‘traditional alternative.’) However, the track’s bark is louder than its bite. There is a cool vibe and a powerful beat, but unfortunately, it appears to be one of the songs that fall slightly below par in this retinue. It’s certainly not a poor song. It just seems a little bit generic when standing alongside some of the other material on offer throughout the remainder of the album.
Following on seamlessly from Passion we are greeted by Sound Witness System – a song that has no trouble in standing out. With Bruno rapping about his passions and ambitions through a distorted, incomprehensible shout barrels down on us. A dynamic not to everyone’s tastes I’m sure and I must admit that, when listening to this album on repeat, it seemed to be the song that I most often skipped over.
Moving back into the realm of upbeat and fast-paced alt-rock, Miracle Man lays the foundations for the rest of the record. With Bruno spitting lyrics over a funkalicious bassline and silky drums, the song almost suffers from its overbearingness. In comparison to the vibe of Here Come the Runts, the music is intense and overstated, but this song feels a little disjointed when following the softer Passion and Sound Witness System. Still, I always find myself nodding my head along to the undeniably infectious beat – bravo.
Handyman the mould with an acoustic introduction, before erupting into a chorus that adds weight to the initial image of Bruno and his guitar. This alt-country song sounds personal to the frontman whilst also managing to employ the thicker timbre that is now synonymous to AWOLNATION. Jealous Buffoon features a neat hook, but overall doesn’t seem to bring anything new or exclusive to the formula. An enjoyable song, just a bit of the same – still, that’s not necessarily a detractor when it comes music this good. Same is safe, and safe is sometimes the right choice.
Seven Sticks of Dynamite was the second single to be released for the upcoming album. A tuned down acoustic guitar strums a sequence that wouldn’t sound out of place in Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set. Bruno’s falsetto tricks us brilliantly by springing on the addition of a growl, culminating in an abrupt yet exciting shout; “COME ON!”. As the music swells, the instruments grow heavier and ultimately leave us with a grungier side to AWOLNATION that I hope most of the audience will enjoy as much as I did. It’s a great piece, and it’s certainly in contention to be my personal favourite from the LP.
To eradicate the risk of writing an essay rather than a review, I will stop myself here. By this point, you should be able to grasp that I thoroughly enjoy this album despite the (infrequent) flaws, and you should believe me when I tell you that every song – including the ones I haven’t mentioned – are worth indulging in. Sounding distinctly different from AWOLNATION’s other endeavours, Run and Megalithic Symphony, this new album is sure to be a commercial success whilst still managing to dip its toes into a variety of genres such as grunge and country.
I implore everyone reading this to check out this album when it releases on the 2nd of February; you certainly will not regret it.