AWOLNATION
Run


3.0
good

Review

by PostMesmeric USER (84 Reviews)
March 18th, 2015 | 19 replies


Release Date: 03/17/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: AWOLNATION finally have an idea of what exactly they want to be.

In the wake the indie electronic wave, Aaron Bruno of Under the Influence of Giants pioneered a solo project called AWOLNATION, which blasted down the doors of indie with infectious hooks and twisted, crackling feedback. With debut material as potent and mesmerizing as “Sail”, AWOLNATION’s Megalithic Symphony became an experimental bouquet, an album with a little for everyone. However, AWOLNATION’s debut threw everything at the wall, but never hit a bulls-eye. A jack of all trades, but a master of none, Megalithic Symphony was just too experimental and dizzying to be worthwhile. Four years later, Bruno is back with his sophomore record under AWOLNATION, Run. Still a spectral electronic oddity mixed with Bruno’s vocal chops, AWOLNATION are sticking to their buzzing guns, but they finally have an idea of what exactly they want to be.

Megalithic Symphony, for all its rampant experimentalism, was an unfocused endeavor. Aaron Bruno clearly had a desire to twist expectations, blend styles, and make something that simply couldn’t be compared to anything else in the crowded alternative scene. That’s admirable, but Megalithic Symphony danced around too much, never settling into a niche for long. Bruno didn’t know what he wanted to do with AWOLNATION. Run, however, feels much more direct. It’s floatier and spacier than its predecessor, with more buzzing synths and airy vocals from Bruno, but the tone he chose to follow through on is consistent. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a track on Run without some form of spiraling electronic fog in the background. The heavily distorted revs of the title track are unsettling, but it’s by far one of the best tracks on the album. “Dreamers” is a sinister song, with Bruno shouting a la “Sail”, while a thick and crackling electronic buzz brews in the background. It’s furious, but doesn’t break away from many of the other aesthetic directions used on Run. “Jailbreak”, whose metronomic pace sounds far too much like the radio hit “Sail” to be an accident, eases off the excess of the electronics with a lighter piano theme.

Vocally, Bruno has had a keen ear for variety. Megalithic Symphony’s lack of direction might have been a hit-and-miss affair, but Bruno’s vocal style probably benefited the most from this lack of focus. Run follows through upon his hopping between bluesy croons, falsetto highs, and belt-out shouts. “Woman Woman” sounds more like the classic sounds of AWOLNATION, taking cues from “Not Your Fault” from Megalithic Symphony with catchy beeps and bloops. Bruno lets his singing carry the melodic weight on Run, as heard on the fantastic “Like People, Like Plastic”, which features one of Bruno’s best vocal performances on the entire record. The title track is an eerie intro, with lyrics “I am a human being, capable of doing terrible things,” but under a choral drone of singing. The vocals are probably the part of Run where Bruno has changed the least. The melodic variety that was present throughout Megalithic Symphony is still firmly rooted in the compositions on Run, though now, the music is produced with a more thorough hand.

The heavier focus on the electronic side gives many of the tracks on Run a thicker and more visceral texture. It feels darker and fuller than Megalithic Symphony did, so you don’t feel like Bruno is meandering around without an objective. However, the fullness of the electronica offers little room for deviation. Sure, the heavy impact of a buzzing synth has weight, but when every single track on the record has such a similar tactic, the impact is weakened. Run uses its focus on excess to some superb effect, no doubt, so it makes the excess of the excess an almost surreal misstep for AWOLNATION.

With a more consistent and focused tone on Run, Aaron Bruno and AWOLNATION are moving down the right path. Megalithic Symphony’s experimentation feels concentrated on Run, while still offering ample opportunity for Bruno to showcase his vocal talent and fill the room with a thunderous electronic warp. The song compositions are just better on Run, and for the first time, Bruno has a full vision in tow. Whether or not this vision can last, however, is where Run flounders a bit. The use of crammed electronica paints a picture, so it makes the overuse of this tactic feel like Bruno settling in too much. Bruno moves from one side of the spectrum to the other, shifting from a total lack of a focus to a total commitment to one. That being said, Run is Bruno improving his songwriting, and I can confidently call it a better album than its predecessor. Will it give rise to a bright future for AWOLNATION" That’s yet to be seen, but Run is the first step to Bruno reaching a balance between rampant experimentalism and committed consistency. Eventually, I think he’ll get there.



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user ratings (103)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
Green Baron (3)
AWOLNATION manage to avoid a sophomore slump, but whether or not they’ll make the leap to excellen...



Comments:Add a Comment 
oisincoleman64
March 17th 2015


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Very good review but try not to mention the album title so much in the same paragraph, it gets repetitive and tiring. Pos'd

Green Baron
March 17th 2015


24345 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

also working on a review for this. definitely better than their debut

Kupasexy15
March 17th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmm...I actually find Megalithic Symphony diverse in sound but focused in intent. It's a pop album first and foremost. Run is good but repetitive, forced and uneven at times for me. Case and point, the awful, awful "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)."

PostMesmeric
March 17th 2015


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yes, "Hollow Moon" isn't a good track.

oisincoleman64
March 17th 2015


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hollow Moon has really grown on me

Kupasexy15
March 17th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Though I'll probably rate this a 3.5. I need a few more listens. I'm actually a big fan of Megalithic Symphony.

Kupasexy15
March 17th 2015


334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I feel like it might win worst lead single of the year for me, beating out Imagine Dragons' I Bet My Life. It's absolutely hookless.

TumsFestival
March 17th 2015


2458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!! is the best song but it has such an atrocious title

Pangea
March 18th 2015


2723 Comments


Hollow moon is so awful, but the rest is better, I understand?

TumsFestival
March 18th 2015


2458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

AWOL has a lot of ideas here but to me there are only around 4 tracks that feel finished

oisincoleman64
March 18th 2015


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Listen to Headrest For My Soul. Now listen to Macy's Day Parade by Green Day. I sense a bit of plagiarism

VaxXi
March 18th 2015


4372 Comments


I only slightly hear Macy's Day Parade, they sound pretty different and the strumming is really disjointed than Macy's Day Parade.

oisincoleman64
March 18th 2015


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can't listen to the song without thinking Macy's Day Parade but to each their own

PostMesmeric
March 18th 2015


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Bruno just jumped from total lack of consistency to using the same formula for nearly every song. This is still a better album than the last one, though.

Green Baron
March 18th 2015


24345 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Headrest reminds of Here's Lookin at You Kid by The Gaslight Anthem the most honestly

TumsFestival
March 18th 2015


2458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yea mesmeric the problems on here are totally different from the problems on the first album, I feel like here it mostly has to do with song structure. That opening song would have sounded a lot better if it wasn't soft for the first half and then that fuzzy sorta-louder second half. He should have put those fuzz parts between the quieter parts. It would have made the track better, but the track still has more problems after that

PostMesmeric
March 18th 2015


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I thought the title track was one of the best on the album. I even dug the buildup. But yes, this album's issues are not the same as the ones that were on Megalithic Symphony. To a degree, I think that's an improvement.

TumsFestival
March 18th 2015


2458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

oh yea the title track isn't the worst song but it was just the first example of my point that came to mind. Feels like other than like 4 tracks the songs either don't go anywhere or reach for too much

PostMesmeric
March 18th 2015


736 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good observation, MyCar. I found the same thing in most of this album. Songs use similar stylistic templates. I mean, I like consistency in themes and influences, but sometimes the background buzz is just overdone.



Hopefully, Bruno is able to get to that happy medium soon. I think he has a lot of potential. He just needs to implement it in the right way.



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