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 was willing to put whatever came to hand or mind on top. That includes poppy melodies supporting nonsense lyrics sung in falsetto or a gritty tenor, with plenty of goofy electronic sounds in between. The "anything goes" quality takes in an odd spoken word track ("Some Sort of Creature") and tracks that recall everything from Prince to Men Without Hats. (Remember "The Safety Dance"?) It all comes together on the 15-minute closer, "Knights of Shame," which begins with Bruno imploring, "Dance, baby, like the world is ending," 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." What does it all mean? Who knows? But 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.
William Ruhlmann, Rovi