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‘Here Come the Runts’ review: Awolnation’s powerful eclectic rock

"Here Come the Runts" is Awolnation's third studio album. Photo Credit: Red Bull

AWOLNATION

“Here Come the Runts”

BOTTOM LINE Building an eclectic rock album in the classic definition.

Awolnation’s Aaron Bruno says his new album, “Here Come the Runts” (Red Bull), is influenced by Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” telling the story of how the country actually is, not how nostalgia and spin paint it to be. And, as lofty as that goal is, he succeeds.

The title track is a crafty combination of triumphant metal, groovy electronica and lyrics that declare “We are the runts.”

Remember when self-deprecation was considered charming? Well, Bruno does and he uses it effectively in the bombastic “Jealous Buffoon” and the plaintive “Table for One,” where he surrounds simple, vulnerable lyrics with a massive wall of sound.

The single “Seven Sticks of Dynamite,” which features Long Beach native Rick Rubin in the video, goes from restrained to raucous (even slipping in a shriek from the band’s breakthrough hit “Sail”) and back again. There’s some Weezer-ish sweetness in “My Molasses” and plenty of hip-hop cleverness in “Sound Witness System” as Bruno offers a wide range of American vignettes. What links them together is what he sings about in the lead single “Passion,” the search for things that “blow my mind.”

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