ALBUM REVIEW: AWOLNATION – Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders

Release Date: April 24th 2020
Label: Better Noise Music


Chock full of vibrant havoc comes AWOLNATION‘s fourth full-length, ‘Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders’, the first offering from the quintet since 2018’s ‘Here Come The Runts’.

Following in the grooves of the band’s usual rhythm, ‘Angel Miners…’ is colourfully cacophonous, exploding brightly amidst vast audiences. From the futuristic highs of ‘The Best’ to the developmental vines of ‘I’m A Wreck’, the Los Angeles alt rock outfit have secured an experimental and charming release.

‘Slam (Angel Miners)’ is a microcosm in itself; techno pavings and vocal murmurings peppering the skies (Aaron Bruno), beckoning a storm that arrives with a fervour that could be more easily likened to a mist. In being almost five minutes long, this track proposes a brash development or a zeal that foams at the mouth, but alas, the layerings of eerie electronic contributions prove to add little to nothing.

Some tracks, however, hulk with such enormity that they shove the diluted likes of ‘California Halo Blue’ and ‘Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies’ into the album’s shadow. ‘Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever’, for example, dons nefarious vocal playtimes and coaxes the more electronic side of the release to the forefront, awake and tart.

‘Lightning Riders’ is further a clean portrayal of self-aware badassery. Isaac Carpenter‘s drum work is a statement piece in itself, while chilly backing vocals lull around the lyrics, and, in the chaos that is AWOLNATION, the maturity of this offering is refreshing.

Nuances of an alert vulnerability are identifiable in ‘Battered, Black & Blue (Hole In My Heart)’, delivered with chins to the sky and a wave on its lips. AWOLNATION are ultimately famous for their ebullience, and with kickers like the aforementioned, as well as the angsty ‘Half Italian’ under their belts, they’re clearly sticking to what sells for the most part.

The electronic veins of some tracks, however, become tangled with the languidly laced, more emotive side of the release. In choosing to include a batch of thinly-veiled sobbings in what is sold as an alternative rock, electro infused album, AWOLNATION surrendered elements of their kick, and in turn, each one of the ten tracks feels jagged and confused.

It appears that AWOLNATION are toeing the line between sticking to what they know with the intention of career success at their core, and leaping wholly into a luscious new genre-infested territory. ‘Angel Miners…’ feels like a wishy-washy mix of the two, incohesive and limp.

Standing alone, though, each song is broad-chested and strong. It just feels like they haven’t quite found their place in today, that’s all.