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Awolnation - Here Come The Runts (Album Review)

Monday, 12 February 2018 Written by Jacob Brookman

On 'Here Come The Runts', Awolnation’s third full album, Aaron Bruno’s ever-changing band of miscreants have leaned into powerful dirges that offer up spiky vocals alongside noisy riffs and textural switcheroos. It’s a fine turn from a band who typify a certain brand of metropolitan West Coast rock.

We open with a real belter of a title track, where sharp woodblocks are joined by naughty bass synths and juddering riffs. It feels as though this is a song that will gather in pace predictably, only for it to slow down and then leap into double time. In football terms, one might call it “giving the goalkeeper the eyes”.

The second track, Passion, is a curious sort of banger, too. It is halfway between Velvet Revolver and Bran Van 3000 and manages to fuse preening operatic rock with unconvincing ‘90s-style white rap.

While the result feels a little dated, its freshness stems from its potentially unreconstructed masculinity. Think Chris Cornell featuring Huey Morgan.

Despite this injection of testosterone, ‘Here Come The Runts’ also boasts moments of tenderness. Jealous Buffoon is a deftly handled bit of falsetto self effacement, while the power ballad Handyman talks about simple relationships with great charm: “If only yesterday took place tomorrow, I'd pray for sleep / And wake you and lift your head / So I can fix your hand / I’ll be your handyman.”

As we enter the final furlong, the beefy energy is retained on Tall, Tall Tale and the chunky epic Stop That Train. As with the opener, the most interesting thing about the closer is a musical arrangement that pings around and tricks you. It may lack poetry and perhaps even musical virtuosity, but it's solid bro-rock in a time of masculine anxiety.

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Sun April 22 2018 - LONDON Scala
Wed April 25 2018 - DUBLIN Academy

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