I remember way back when the line-up for 2012’s RAMfest was revealed, I scrolled through it and was delighted by all the bands I was familiar/obsessed with at the time. Among those, AWOLNATION stood out as the only one I’d never heard of. Well, that changed very quickly after the band’s almost infamous track, “Sail,” from their “Megalithic Symphony” album burst on to the scene.

The track, and the album, rocketed AWOLNATION (currently signed with Red Bull Records), into the mainstream and I’ve been an enormous fan ever since. Which is why when I heard they would soon be releasing a new album titled “Run,” I challenged Ed to a duel for the chance to do a review. Well, Ed lost/might be dead, so here’s my review.

If you loved “Megalithic Symphony,” and were hoping that “Run” would sound more-or-less similar, you may want to sit down… Sure the new album is still unmistakably AWOLNATION, with Aaron’s unique, distinctive vocals peppering each track, but that’s about where the similarities end.

After listening to the new album on repeat about five times, I’m left feeling a little confused, and more than a little shell-shocked. Every track has an entirely different sound to it, almost like the album suffers from the same ADD Aaron sings about in “Sail.” This wouldn’t be a bad thing if the album flowed together and felt like each song had a role to play, but unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case.

The contrast between tracks is a little jarring, and sometimes just plain… weird. The title track, “Run,” doesn’t sound dissimilar to what I imagine an orgy between the band, an orchestra, and a robot would sound like. Whereas the songs “KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!!,” and “Dreamers” wouldn’t sound too out of place in a stadium with bleeding kids kicking the shit out of each other in a mosh-pit. Then, in case you weren’t already scratching your head, the songs “Holy Roller,” “Fat Face,” and “Drinking Lightning” pop in all melodic and moody, sounding like every song in every indie movie ever.

Awolnation album cover

Save for tranquil “Headrest For My Soul,” the album’s only acoustic number, the vast majority of the remaining tracks have a similar feel and sound. Heavy baseline here, uplifting chorus there, and Aaron’s captivating vocals to round it all off. But even among these, the variations in musical style is tremendous, and chaotic. Which, again, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just a strange thing.

Taking all this into account, it should be noted that “Run” is by no means a terrible album. Song’s like “Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf),” “I am,” and “KOOKSEVERYWHERE!!!!” alone make the album worth the cash. If the band had relied a little less on their electronic sound, and more on their indie rock roots, the album would’ve sounded much more cohesive and satisfying.

All things considered, “different” is what AWOLNATION does best, and “Run” is very, very different.