AWOLNATION’s third album, Here Come The Runts, is the definition of a mixed bag. Frontman and songwriter Aaron Bruno carries a hand of genres, and lays them out here together in a flush. With diverse style influences ranging from synth and electro to pop and alt-rock, Here Come The Runts manages to display a lot of different things without feeling bloated or confused or directionless. It’s skillfully done!
The album is well composed, both on an individual song basis and as a whole, which speaks to the writing and arranging talents of the writer. Songs blend well without the genre changes feeling jarring. A decent length, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and nor does it leave you dissatisfied. Overall, a well written and well put together piece.
Now, besides the technical aspect of things, how does the music itself hold up?
This is where the diversity makes it difficult to review. It’s hard to pin down anything that holds true in broad strokes for this album. I preface this part with the disclaimer that I am an AWOLNATION first timer. Of course, I’ve heard Sail, which interested me enough to do this review, but beyond that, the works of AWOLNATION are a mystery to me.
I will say most of all that there is a great deal of strength on display here. Bruno’s powerful voice is on show almost entirely throughout. Everything resonates well. Melodies are memorable and catchy. Unfortunately the first several tracks seem to lack a certain intensity that would make them truly great. I listened to them waiting for some part to truly grab me, but there was always the feeling that they were restrained. I was very pleased to find this intensity towards the back half of the album, with tracks such as Seven Sticks of Dynamite, Table for One, and Tall, Tall Tale standing out, and Stop That Train bringing it all to a close as an excellent literal showstopper.
Finally, a note about the lyrics. It’s feels somewhat foolhardy to want or expect a group known for synthy dance music to have great lyrics, but I did find myself disappointed still that only one track stood out in that regard. Though Bruno has an incredible voice, the lyrics he sings don’t really mean too much until the insightful honesty of Jealous Buffoon, a melodic interlude almost, that really stuck out to me.
In summary, an extremely well written and well put together album with a lot on show, the most exciting of which can be found towards the end.