Awolnation! And Sail, and Not Your Fault... and Run. This is the sophomore studio album, after releasing his debut album Megalithic Symphony which I'm still not completely sold on, spawning the ultimate hit of the 2011-2012's Sail. Now, if there's anything that is going to be hard to follow-up to, all you need to do is to ask the front-man of the band, Aaron Bruno, who mostly wrote every song on this album, because when you have a fanbase (or not) that only remembers your most successful song (you already know what it is), it's going to be really tough. And for the most part, he does do it justice mainly because Symphony had sore flaws, but that doesn't mean Run doesn't suffocate itself with it, too.
To be fair, to say Awolnation was 'lucky' that Sail became as popular and successful as it is, is an insult to the man and the band, who did the song not only justice, but with a solid aplomb. While it was obviously oblivious to a re-touching of the vocals which became apparent in the final product that it was a little too fizzy and distorted, Aaron Bruno still went with it anyway since he thought nobody's going to listen to it. The drums, coupled with well-timed and executed synthesizers reveals this monster of a production that is just gorgeous to soak in to. One thing to keep in mind though, is to not just remember that Sail was a song for product placement, but the track itself paved the way and opened eyes for more people who thought atmospheric tracks never found a home in today's music industry. And I would love to advocate my point on it. Let's get right on in with the album.
It's a shaky start, and everybody knows. Run is mainly a recreation, if I would admit of Symphony, but with much more intimate courses like a meal that when savoured, is amazing to swallow but like it's predecessor, there's too much of everything. The title track, which is also the first track on the album, runs alongside traditions similar to Sail, but with much more layered synthesizers and a little hint of piano, before it smashes into disarray with the gouging out of electric guitars that just revels in atmospheric chaos. And most of the tracks on this album do hit hard when they throw a punch, such as tracks like the explosive KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!! (I know), intensity of Dreamers and some parts of the dark and gritty nature of Windows. In fact though, most of the tracks on this album don't really focus on the aggressive nature that was particularly evident in Symphony (Soul Wars an example). Instead, the album finds its' home in the arms of more selfless efforts like Fat Face (which is a break-down coming directly after the impressive track that is Run), Jailbreak, and two of my favourites Headrest for My Soul and Woman Woman (with Holy Roller sneaking in). It's strange, coincidentally that when you have tracks that roar out from the fissures of the Earth, the tracks that are much more softer in general tend to speak louder than its counterparts, and that was something that surprised me exceptionally. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean that the aggressive nature disappeared entirely because there's always the undertone of it on tracks like Windows.
I find myself wanting to listen to more of the aforementioned tracks like the the title, and Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf), which I think is a great song, though won't become an instant classic. Give it a couple more spins and it will grow on you, because it did for me. But it wasn't really the engaging synthesizers that I was looking for, but rather the sound that captivated and compelled me to listen to the band in the first place - the atmospheric channels, and for the most part songs that had both style and substance in the veins of Sail. That was difficult to do, and I think Aaron Bruno wanted to distance himself from the previous album considering with a hit like that on your shoulders, sometimes it does more harm than good eventually.
The album itself is meant to be listened to one song at a time, and the essence that it captures does draw a bottleneck, though not intensely, but it still works decently. Some tracks don't necessarily pair up well with others (Run to Fat Face, Headrest for My Soul to Dreamers) but that is to be expected considering Symphony had pretty much the same problem. But I felt that I got more with this album than I did with the predecessor, and for me that is saying a lot. Connection to songs like Headrest for My Soul, Windows, Woman Woman, Lie Love Live Love and hell, even Run all have an emotional core though don't wear it on their sleeves all the time, and works extremely well when the album tries to go in sharp turns that I did not expect.
Essential: Windows, Run
Favourite Tracks: Headrest for My Soul, Woman Woman, Hollow Moon
Least Favourite Tracks: Fat Face, Drinking Lightning
I have to be honest; this album is absolutely great. It's definitely, in my opinion, a little better than Megalithic Symphony, and it reaches new heights that were otherwise never traversed on his previous record. If you're looking for a new Sail, you might get fun out of Windows, Run and Hollow Moon for that matter, but this album is a sweet wine for the soul -- as long as you got your mind straight for the most part. Definitely looking forward to Awolnation's future releases. A shorter summary? Listen to this album twice, because it deserves every spot of attention from your ears. Just don't get too embedded in the wrong side of things.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.