After listening to ‘Sail’, the debut single from the album Megalithic Symphony, I was surprised when I gave the rest of the album a listen. But it was a pleasant surprise. This album has a variety of sounds, providing instantly lovable tracks that make the album an excellent listen.
AWOLNATION are an electro rock band from the US formed by frontman Aaron Bruno. Having toured with MGMT and Weezer, they are in good company for a reason. They released their first EP Back from Earth in 2010, before releasing their album in the UK in September this year. ‘Sail’ was featured on this EP: a strong, rhythmic electronic beat teamed with simple lyrics, giving it a dramatic and explosive feel, with a bit of piano to intervene. This powerful song contrasts with the mixture of styles on the rest of album. It varies from an upbeat electronic style, to a relaxed indie rock feel, with piano thrown subtly into the background on many tracks. Rapping is even also featured, on the last (and impressively long) 14-minute 56-second song ‘Knights of Shame’.
Bruno’s excellent voice is also shown off throughout the album. He varies from singing smoothly and sweetly to a sort of yelling (in a pleasant way though). He also layers his voice, even adding the help of a choir on the track ‘All I Need’, the most relaxed song on the album. This contrasts with some of the other really quick and instantly catchy tracks, such as ‘Soul Wars’ and ‘Burn It Down’.
The only minor irritancies with this album are the small interludes of a couple of 27-second long spoken tracks. One is a phone conversation with the choir singing in the background, ‘My Nightmare’s Dream’, while another is a description of a sighting of ‘Some Sort of Creature’, after which it’s named. This style is continued to the end of the album when the last part of ‘Knights of Shame’ is spoken, again by Bruno on the phone. Although the interludes may be annoying, it’s quite cyclical to end the album with the same phone call.
The general themes for AWOLNATION if you investigate their cover art or website is that of space travel and sci-fi. There is the running story that AWOLNATION made a video in the 50s in 3D revealing sci-fi alien activity which was banned from being shown, which you can see on the website. The sci-fi theme can be felt in the album by the beginning, ‘Megalithic Symphony’, with electronic and eerie sounds. It is an interesting theme that is so heavily centred on.
This album is thoroughly enjoyable, with almost every track an instant favourite. The strange and slightly dark lyrics — for example “Maybe I’m a different breed/Maybe I’m not listening/Blame it on my A.D.D.” — make each song quirky and colourful. The slight obsession with sci-fi can be overlooked, revealing a great album underneath. As Bruno says, “Thank you for listening again/Or for the first time/Or for the last time”. I reckon it won’t be the last time.
Good: A fine selection of catchy and lovable electro rock tracks
Bad: Slightly obsessed with sci-fi, but easily overlooked when the music is this brilliant