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AAA Music | 20 May 2024

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Awolnation – Back From Earth

| On 08, Nov 2010

Having seen Awolnation perform live recently, the first reaction I have to their EP ‘Back From Earth’ is exactly how frenetic it is. Live, they are energetic yet relaxed and assured. On record, they are a different kettle of fish altogether.

Burn It Down’, the main track on the release, is a fast-paced explosion of a song, belting out the speakers with a manic cascade of concrete drumming before launching into a hot-blooded hip hop rock track featuring pulsating, buzzing synths and urgent yelping vocals belting out some purposeful lyrics. The chorus is reminiscent of a less metallic Rage Against The Machine in the aggressive rap blended with rock, and the verses a decaffeinated Mindless Self Indulgence in their acidic sounds. The bridge and pre-choruses build mood before the pounding booms of the chorus, and a sudden end leaves a real impact. The remix is a heavily syncopated techno-dance rendition, stripping the rock and pushing the vocals to the forefront over a fairly standard dance bassline and some enjoyable grinding synths to make the track into a strange pseudo-jungle thumper which feels awkward but not unpleasant although the fact the remix is longer than the original by nearly two minutes of synthesised pitch-shift feels unnecessary to the point of overindulgent.

Stop-start fuzzy acoustic guitar chords and bass throb open up the hip-pop-rock dance protest of ‘Guilty Filthy Soul’, which blends feel-good handclaps, strummed acoustic guitar, a funk rock bridge and a fantastically upbeat pop song chorus with lyricism that borders on aggressive at times leading to an entirely enjoyable indie rock dance track that due to its party feel occasionally misses the mark with its message as the vocals are drowned out by keyboard stabs and excellent yet attention-demanding rhythmic play.

Once again, dark synths and jungle undertones are the order of the day on rap-driven rant ‘MF’, possibly the most direct and to-the-point track that grabs the listener by the throat and pounds them with dance beats and aggressive party rap. The lyricism borders on the puerile yet the song itself is guaranteed to be a strong contender in the list of things likely to get heavy play at the more underground clubs.

Sail’ is a strange beast – the synths scream “jungle” in harsh, deep tones, the vocal tones are nearly punk rock, the drums indie rock stadium stomp and the overall effect bringing us back to the feeling of a restrained and de-politicised Rage Against The Machine. That said, what it lacks in bite ‘Sail’ makes up for in being a total defiance of classification.

Awolnation are not really my cup of tea (being a coffee drinker) and their almost totally unique blend of dance, hip hop and rock is undeniably in possession of moments of true impact and excitement, however they are unable to completely escape an underlying feeling of awkwardness. When they aim for politics their party vibes water down the attack, and yet they can’t quite pull off a party track either. What is on offer here is unique, interesting and undeniably in possession of potential, but the overall effect on ‘Back From Earth’ feels watered-down and confused by its own struggle to find a voice.

Author: Katie H-Halinski