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AAA Music | 22 April 2024

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| On 25, Mar 2015


AWOLNATION cruised into the mainstream alt-music scene with the 2011 odyssey ‘Sail’. The band found a way to garner popularity with originality, blending harsh synths, simple beats, and repetitive choruses in a way that undoubtedly improved with every play. ‘Sail’ brought both pop and alternative-rock fans together, breaking records and going ten times platinum in the US charts.

Having enjoyed the success of singles ‘Sail’, ‘Kill your Heroes’ and the rest of their acclaimed first album ‘Megalithic Symphony’, the band have finally released album number two, four years later, in the form of Run.

Run is a refreshing second album that follows many of the highpoints of the band’s electric debut, whilst displaying phonic maturity and a tightness that only comes from a long recording process. Clearly a large amount of studio time has been devoted to perfecting the sounds of the album and this shows not only through the restrained ballads ‘Fat Face’ and ‘Headrest of My Soul’ but also the more explosive entries such as the noteworthy single ‘Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)’, which is highly layered with tightly bound synths, cymbals and snares.

By making elements of the tracks sing clarity, AWOLNATION are able to subvert our expectations throughout, with distorted vocals and dark motifs contrasting sharply with the more angelic elements. Nearly every song is a metamorphosis, flirting between genres and traversing styles mid-riff. In ‘Jailbreak‘ we have a track that comes close to ‘Sail’, with a strong piano melody, overlayed with bass and synths, that intrude between verses of hollowed vocals and handclaps.

You will easily lose yourself in the loops, which defy centrality, these are songs that’ll have you humming with the synth, tapping to the bassline, and singing the drum beats, even totally ignoring vocals – a nice change from the simplicity we might crudely associate with pop. The panning is superb with drum fills and effects filtering between your ears, as satisfying harmonies greet you swooning head on.

The singles for the album are ‘Run’ the title and first track, which works as a synth based melodic intro, filtering from light to dark. The second is ‘Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)’, as previously noted a strong entry into the AWOLNATION catalogue and ‘Windows’ which opens loud, bursting aggression, before gracefully tempering into a soothing vocal melody.

If you visit Run as a ‘Sail’ fan, come for ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)’, but it’s worth staying to look around. The album is maybe too polished in places, but it’s an interesting alternative epic nonetheless. AWOLNATION have invested their four-year joyride in creating a worthy successor to everything we know and love.

Jon Horvath

Review Overview

Jon Horvath

Very Good

If you visit Run as a ‘Sail’ fan, come for ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)’, but it’s worth staying to look around.