The runts are here and underwhelming on Awolnation’s “Here Come the Runts”

Categories:  The Arts    Music
Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 at 5:47 PM
The runts are here and underwhelming on Awolnation’s “Here Come the Runts”  by Livia Homerski

                                                                         ★★★☆☆

Awolnation’s “Here Come the Runts” is the third album by the American alternative rock band, released on Feb. 2. Awolnation is still trying to shake the one-hit-wondered “Sail” from their first album, “Megalithic Symphony,” but have had difficulty with other singles catching wind.

After keyboardist Kenny Carkeet and bassist Marc Walloch left the band in 2017 in pursuit of other projects, frontman Aaron Bruno was left to his own ideas about what direction the band should go in. Awolnation has now stepped away from some of the inorganic electronic noise, and into richer, more natural soundscapes while still maintaining some boops.

For example, the EDM inspired buzzsaw synth beat on eponymous first track “Here Come the Runts” breaks down and winds into galloping speed metal complete with a brass section as the runts start coming.

The second track, “Passion,” kicks out with a brief, acapella chant of “blow my mind” and then the vocals burst into a catchy falsetto verse. The song builds slow momentum until the choir singing “Passion!” prepares us for the transition into “Sound Witness System.” As this moment is so brief, it leaves the listener wondering where this energy was during the middle of the song.

It takes a while for the album to pick up, and tracks like “Miracle Man” and “Jealous Buffoon” feel like loud, repeating fillers.

“Handyman,” while wholesome, comes across as generic, especially when paired with such a typical arena rock chord pattern in the chorus and the “doo doo doos.”

The album starts feeling a little rugged again when it hits “7 Sticks of Dynamite.” A song for those who romanticize rugged cowboys and a femme fatale, it plays between a slinking blues rock riff and a seductive chorus. However, unlike some of the other songs, the wait for the dramatic accent is actually appropriate. Much like you’re waiting for the wick to burn low and trigger the explosion, the tension in the acoustic verses explodes when the heavy, distorted guitar comes in.

“My Molasses” is a multi-dimensional oxymoron in both lyrics and sound. The mood comes off as cheery grunge between the homey whistling and guitar chugging. With lyrics like, “Please don't mistake this for a hell of a time / Hold back my tears, so I don't spoil your wine,” it’s obvious that this isn’t a sweet love song, but a politely emotional confession about the way this person tears the writer apart.

Unfortunately, “Here Come the Runts” bursts with about as much energy as you may expect a group of runts to have. It’s not called “Here Come the Alphas” after all.

The instrumentation and production make the album palatable enough, but repetition reigns supreme both lyrically and in song structure. You only hear the dynamic peaks in sound and chord progression you’ve been waiting for only towards the very end, which shortsells the production. It makes the songs feel underwhelming and underdeveloped.

The runts delivered just a little too much classic rock influence instead of unpredictability and their triumphant declaration becomes a quiet announcement.

Standout Tracks: "My Molasses," "Table for One" and "7 Sticks of Dynamite."

Stream below:

Livia Homerski is the arts editor for The Spectator. 

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