Album review: AWOLNATION, Run


Chloe Keung checks out the new LP from the LA band:

Genre-benders AWOLNATION are back with their sophomore release Run, and it’s an apocalyptic party mixtape. Soulful serenading coupled with screaming. Cheesy piano. 80s spaceship synthesisers. Guitars from your favourite unknown grunge band. They have sewn together an album of influences that even Frankenstein would be proud of. So hit the dance floor and jangle your bones, because dead or alive, this record will make you shake!

AWOLNATION is a 5-piece electronic rock band from Los Angeles, formed and fronted by the enigmatic Aaron Bruno. They are best known for their 2011 single ‘Sail’. Hypnotic. Melancholic. Mad. And so is the opening track of the new record, Run. Complete with techno-bass, strings and a dazed mantra repeating: ‘I am a human being capable of doing terrible things’; the track is evocative of the opening theme from cult-classic Requiem for a Dream. It is the perfect opener to a record as hyper as this.

‘Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)’, the first single off Run, is the morbid party anthem. ‘KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!’ Is electrifying. ‘Dreamers’ is kind of scary. ‘Windows’ is a little anxiety inducing. If ‘Woman Woman’ were a person, it would be a debutante, pretty in pink – and with a beard. There seems to be a track for every occasion, no matter how universal or unusual.

The only unfortunate track is ‘Jailbreak’, simply because it could be ‘Sail’ Pt. II. It possesses the same swayable trudge and instrumentation. I felt like this track could only be justified as the band’s trip down memory lane; a self-homage to the single ‘Sail’ that shot them to renown.

Nevertheless, the band neither cares to conform and appease nor self-inject value by pretending to be tortured souls. The harsh grittiness of Run is well balanced by tracks that are just pretty, without compromising the overall energy. Often, Bruno will scream with flamboyant rasp over the vanilla cleanliness of a piano ballad, like in ‘Fat Face’, which is rather reminiscent of Modest Mouse. Other times, the band will not deny they have a soft spot. For example, ‘Headrest For My Soul’ and ‘Lie Love Live Love’ that are undeniably gorgeous indie pop songs with clean guitar and surprisingly wonderful vocal technique. But ‘Holly Roller’ is my favourite. It is simply beautiful.

Through Run, AWOLNATION were able to deliver the energy and carefree obnoxiousness of the forever young through meticulous and perfectionistic production and songwriting skills. This record is oozing with every emotion conceivable. It is possibly the work of a mad scientist. But most importantly, this record is fun.

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Words by Chloe Keung