Recording information: Avatar Studios; Awolstudio; Fireside Sound Studio; Gymnasium Hollywood; Main & Market, Venice, CA; Red Bull Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
Following his group sojourns with major-label projects Home Town Hero (on Maverick) and Under the Influence of Giants (on Island), Aaron Bruno resurfaces as a one-man band (albeit with a lot of help, including longtime partner Drew Stewart) under the name AWOLNATION on Megalithic Symphony. A megalith is a large stone, so a megalithic symphony would seem to be an ambitious suite of rock music, and the album fits its title if one interprets the ambition as an unfettered eclecticism and sense of whimsy, as tethered to constant dance beats. Bruno seems to have built his tracks up from the percussion patterns, and once he got the beats he liked, he layered poppy melodies supporting lyrics sung in falsetto or a gritty tenor, with plenty of goofy electronic sounds in between. The "anything goes" quality takes in a spoken-word track ("Some Sort of Creature") and songs that recall everything from Prince to Men Without Hats. It all comes together on the 15-minute closer, "Knights of Shame," which begins with Bruno imploring, "Dance, baby, like the world is ending," and continues through various sections including a rap by Cameron Duddy, and ends, after a minute or so of silence, with a hidden track that finds Bruno strumming his acoustic guitar and croaking, "It's been a long time waiting for you." Megalithic Symphony engages the ear from moment to moment and allows Aaron Bruno to try out a variety of ideas, many of them half-baked, but all of them entertaining. [A Deluxe Edition added a second disc of remixed and live tracks.] ~ William Ruhlmann
Q (Magazine) (p.95) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "There are nods to early Beck, with some strains of Prince lurking, too..."