'Here Come the Runts' by AWOLNATION is a ride on a whirlwind. Four out of five stars.
The runts have arrived, and they're definitely here to make an impression. AWOLNATION's new album, Here Come the Runts, delivers what you'd expect from the artist: the unexpected. With changes in pace at almost every turn of the page, crunchy electric guitars, melodic hooks and great moments of polyrhythmic pop, Here Come the Runts is a memorable experience that can be enjoyed by old and new fans alike.
The first song is the title track, and it kicks off a solid first act. "Passion" leaves it all on the field, so to speak. The second song on the album, it features low, bristling guitars and an explosive chorus. Frontman Aaron Bruno sings, "You got a little, you could use much more. Pump up the passion!" This energetic manifesto is followed by an outro track called "Sound Witness System," which has some chill rapping and ends up being a fantastic way to finish what "Passion" started.
A couple great songs in the middle of the album are tracks five and six, "Handyman" and "Jealous Buffoon." The former is strikingly different than the songs preceding it, stylistically. "Handyman" begins and ends with just acoustic guitar and vocals. It picks up a little bit at some parts, but it's one of the more laid back tracks, overall. "Handyman" has to do with reminiscing about the past, regrets and wishing for better things ahead. It's groovy, has a sweet melody and ends up being kind of blue. "Jealous Buffoon" is about having jealousy for a girl, and its primary strength is the driving rhythm it brings through electric guitar and drums. There's also a nice mix of yells and falsetto by Bruno.
Later on, highlights "Table for One" (introduced by the somewhat whimsical interlude "A Little Luck and a Couple of Dogs") and "My Molasses" draw new pictures in the mind of the listener. "Table for One" is a classic lonely anthem that swells with emotion and is a slower song, in general. "My Molasses" is one of the most engaging and unique songs on Here Come the Runts. In it, Bruno tells a story of getting embarrassed by ruining a surprise party and sings, "Like sugar cane, my face was melting to molasses." Add some whistling for good measure, and you have a winner here.
After "My Molasses," the only true standout track left is the last one, "Stop That Train." It follows an unconventional song structure and has epic, cinematic vibes. There's also no chorus, and the lyrics aren't the easiest to interpret. Its appeal shines through in the different rhythm patterns involved and the energy that captivates the listener until the conclusion – ending the album with a bang.
With Here Come the Runts, AWOLNATION does what AWOLNATION does best. You never know what's going to happen from one minute to the next, and it's a record that repeatedly brings new elements to the table. While, admittedly, there are a few skippable cuts scattered throughout Here Come the Runts, the album undoubtedly succeeds as a whole. Look no further if you want to shake up your life's soundtrack this week.