AWOLNATION – Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders (Better Noise Music)
Bad luck doesn’t even come close to describing Aaron Bruno’s utter lack of fortune in the build-up to AWOLNATION’S latest long player.
During devastating fires that swept through Malibu in 2018, the driving force behind one of dance rock’s most innovative bands lost his studio and everything within it.
As a result, Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders is the sound of AWOLNATION risen from the ashes.
And it’s a quite remarkable response to serious adversity.
In keeping with Bruno’s expansive creative mind, the tonal twists and turns are dizzying in their ambition.
On Battered, Black And Blue (Hole In My Heart), the potentially jarring juxtaposition of 80s pop melody and punk-fuelled, riff-heavy angst works a treat.
Bruno has never been afraid to push the aural envelope.
And AM&TLR is awash with wave upon wave of mind-bending melody.
Opener The Best is, ironically, one of the weakest songs here.
It’s instantly forgotten given the progressive might of follow-up Slam (Angel Miners) – luscious keys jostling for position with aggressive rhythms on a colossal track.
Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever ups the ante again.
A guest appearance from Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros) adds fuel to the fire of a red hot party starter.
And by the time Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo pops up on Pacific Coast Highways In The Movies, a self-confident Bruno is pulling out all the stops.
AWOLNATION might be best known for 2011 smash Sail and that era-defining hit still resonates with a generation of alt rockers almost a decade down the line.
But AM&TLR proves Bruno still has what it takes to defy convention and reinvent the wheel.
Time spent on the road with 21 Pilots has clearly fuelled a fresh desire to craft arena-ready soundscapes predicting a future without limits.
And when coronavirus is finally kicked into touch it’s a sound bet that AWOLNATION’s production-heavy shows will be the must-see gigs of the post-lockdown era.