Recording information: Dragonfly Creek Recording; Rancho Resoro; Red Bull Studios, Los Angeles, CA.
2011's "Sail," a thick blast of paranoid, midtempo, industrial-tinged electro-pop, was the centerpiece of Awolnation's platinum-selling debut, and its fevered Trent Reznor-isms and heavily barbed hooks (and very 21st century refrain of "Blame it on my ADD") lent themselves well to late-night TV dramas and intense sporting montages. Run, the Aaron Bruno-led outfit's sophomore outing, doubles down on the attention deficit with a dizzying 14-track set that channels everyone from Muse to the Beach Boys, offering up a grab bag filled with huge arena choruses, bucolic harmonies, and meaty dance beats. Bruno comes out of the gate coiled and ready to strike with the unnerving title cut, which introduces a sleek, orchestral, minor-key loop and a mantra of "I am a human being, capable of doing terrible things" before exploding into a full-on NIN-style hissy fit (had it arrived a year earlier, it would have made an ace stand-in for the Eels' "Fresh Blood," which adorns the opening credits sequence of HBO's true crime Robert Durst documentary The Jinx). Bruno pulls a complete 180 with the breezy and soulful "Fat Face," but wastes little time in getting back to the dystopian workout regime on the brazenly retro "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)," a hook-filled, heavily arpeggiated blend of classic new wave and early-'90s big box pop that falls somewhere between ELO, New Order, and Imagine Dragons. ~ James Christopher Monger