‘Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders’ album review

Image courtesy of Facebook.com/AWOLNATION

album: Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders
genre: electronic rock
release date: April 24, 2020
star rating: three out of five

review by Levi Yager

This album’s a tricky one. It seems like it checks all the main boxes for a solid AWOLNATION record, but it’s just a little under-cooked somehow. And this makes it feel all too much like a B-sides album. Now, that’s not totally a bad thing, but it means Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders isn’t quite AWOLNATION’s best. Satisfactory? Sure.

As it stands, I’d say half of this album is really good. There isn’t a particularly strong section, as the highlights are mostly sequenced to be every other track. This is probably a good thing, though, as it keeps the listener’s interest up most of the time.

Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders doesn’t hit its full stride till the third song, “Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever.” Yeah, you’ve got the alt. radio single “The Best” starting off as the first track, and it’s fun and all, but I was still left wanting a whole lot more after that. With “Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever,” AWOLNATION ramps up the energy for a flat-out jam that leaves it all on the dance floor. However, we sadly don’t get very many high-energy bangers like this on the album. And even when we do, they typically don’t turn out as good as “Mayday!!! Fiesta Fever.” One exception would be the sixth song, “Radical.” Smack-dab in the middle of the record, it’s a refreshing cut that has a devil-may-care, pump-your-fist attitude with a bombastic, guitar-driven sound to match. Put simply, if you’re not yet “a radical,” you will be by the end of this song.

Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of the songs on this record are on the slower side. Not to worry; there are a few gems with this approach as well. The first would be “California Halo Blue” at number five. It’s a soaring power ballad with an irresistible melody that takes hold of you immediately; it’s definitely a memorable track. Possibly more mid-tempo than outright slow, the eighth and ninth songs, “Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies” and “Half Italian,” also stand out for their unique, respective styles. I especially like “Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies” for its funky-fresh feel incorporating bubbling, popping synthesizers.

The last song is “I’m A Wreck.” This one has more progressive structure and timing than most of the other songs on Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders, and it features introspective lyrics that are in line with the song’s title. The final moments are interesting, with frontman Aaron Bruno screaming at a “fake motherfucker,” which could possibly be self-referential in this context. Then, he just says the album name before the song concludes.

If you’re a hardcore AWOLNATION fan, I’d say you should check out this album. You may like it more than I did. And who knows? Maybe it’ll grow on me. As far as my first impression goes, it’s good – but not great. Some parts are pretty engaging, but there just aren’t enough of them – and this results in an album that’s boring at times, which usually can’t be said of an AWOLNATION release. At the end of the day, though, Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders is an album only AWOLNATION could put out, and that’s sure to be enough for many listeners.

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