Review: AWOLNATION is consistently inconsistent with “Here Come the Runts”


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Aaron Bruno performing live with the rest of AWOLNATION.


AWOLNATION has shifted into a more pure alt-rock sound with “Here Come the Runts,” while still retaining that high energy wall-of-sound that the group is known for. But along with that, they prove themselves to once again be consistently inconsistent, retaining many of the issues found in previous albums.

Right off the bat, “Here Come the Runts” kicks it into high gear with the title track, that features a chugging, almost heavy metal guitar, and anthemic synth trumpets. The metal sound of this song seems like a natural progression for AWOLNATION, but it is completely absent on every other track besides the closer. The energy continues seamlessly into the next track, “Passion,” where the first of the many problems within the album becomes apparent.

Lyricism has never been Aaron Bruno’s forte, but his writing ability has clearly degraded with each album release. “Passion” still has the crunchy synths that could be found in “Run” or “Hollow Moon” from their previous album, but has an almost laughable chorus. Bruno still has the raw, powerful vocals found in the rest of their work, but it’s hard to keep a straight face while listening to the “Pa-pa-pa-passion!/ Blow my mind,” that makes up 80% of the song.

However, separating the extended outro, “Sound Witness System,” into its own track is very much appreciated in this era of increased playlist listening.

And while not all songs are written as badly as “Passion,” tracks like “Miracleman,” and “Cannonball,” for example, feel like they were written around the word of the title, resulting in some fairly awkward lyrics.

AWOLNATION’s biggest struggle over the years has been producing a consistent, well flowing album, and unfortunately, “Here Come the Runts” doesn’t change anything about that. Huge, up-tempo electronic tracks will immediately transition into a slower acoustic song, giving the listener tonal whiplash.

That’s not to say the album is a complete wash. “Seven Sticks of Dynamite,” is a fantastic track, slowly building from simple acoustic chord progression into a massive power-ballad. “Table for One,” is another standout, track about the melancholy of a breakup. The closer, “Stop That Train,” has similar lyric issues found on the rest of the album, but it’s hard not to headbang listening to Bruno scream while the rest of the band plays heavier than they ever have before.

AWOLNATION has yet to craft the perfect album, but there are plenty of tracks on “Here Come the Runts” that are definitely worth the listen. The band’s shift to a slightly heavier sound feels natural, and in line with their more popular songs like “Sail,” and “Hollow Moon,” but may also turn off fans of their poppier songs.



– New, heavier sound for the band

– Plenty of solid tracks to go around


– Inconsistent tone throughout

– Many tracks have poorly written lyrics