Alison Wonderland - Awake
Alison Wonderland was one of the first treasures I found when starting this blog. I was still a baby in terms of electronic music but her debut album Run which came out almost exactly three years ago was diverse, complex and had this super strong sense of melody for something so dub step adjacent. The plot thickened when you learned she was a classically trained cellist and sung all of her own hooks. There was a sense of experimentation and freedom to that album that was so delightfully to hear from such a young musician. Her confidence on stage feels endless, and if you've ever been to a live show of hers prepare to be blown the fuck away. This new album, Awake, picks up where Run left off, but instead of focusing on outward emotional expression this album turns the lens inward. Her grasp of song composition is really one of the most endearing things about her music, and is front and center on Awake. It's pretty easy in heavy EDM and dub-step to loose track of making a song that flows in exchange for one that bangs hard as hell. It's the festival/show culture and the allure is of course intoxicating to make a crowd move live, but translating that to an album is difficult as hell. How can you take something that is meant to get a whole crowd of people moving but also have it work while someone is sitting at their desk on a Tuesday. This album ticks all those boxes and more by leaving the played out ideas of what EDM songs need to be about out the window. IN getting to the core of what she believes Wonderland is able to connect with her vast millenial audience on a deep almost spiritual level, hence here line of T shirts that say "fuck me up on a spiritual level".
When rapper Buddy features on "Cry" you realize how next level Alison Wodnerland's song writing is. his verse is so pedestrian about some girl trying to hollar at him, but her's is about flipping that script and making a "grown man cry". This record is far more atmospheric than a lot of EDM, creating soundscapes for Wonderland to play in. Chief Keef delivers a stellar performance on "Dreamy Dragon" and Alison chops up his vocals using them in such an interesting way throughout. If you've followed her career you know this album pulled every ounce of her out, she worked and worked to make sure that this was something special and she absolutely succeeded. The record feels deep and cared for, both musically and lyrically. The album closes on "Awake" which in someone else's hands could be a pedestrian attempt at capturing some kind of "woke" moment, but she flips it and makes it about realizing that love comes from within rather than through other's approval. You can count the sophomore out when it comes to Alison Wonderland because she makes it seem like she has this making records thing licked. I'm very aware I'm bias, but I love this record and I love Alison Wonderland, if you aren't already on board get your whole life together.
8.8 out of 10