Album Review :
Awake! Awake! - Bittersweet Horizon

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Band: Awake! Awake!
Title: Bittersweet Horizon
Label: unsigned
Release Date: July 1, 2010
Reviewer: BMer

Tracklisting:

  1. 1. Colors

  1. 2. Distance

  1. 3. Firing Squad

  1. 4. True North

  1. 5. Sight

  1. 6. Silhouette

  1. 7. Harbor Lights

  1. 8. Open The Door

  1. 9. Stone Countenance

  1. 10. Disarmed

  1. 11. Nemesis

  1. 12. Red

Bittersweet Horizon is the sophomore effort by Tennessee’s Awake! Awake!.  It is a solid follow-up to their debut, We’ve Been Strangers, and their second release without label backing.  Sophomore albums can really tell you a lot about a band; sometimes they deflate all of the momentum created by a debut record and sometimes they justify all of the hard work and praise received.  Bittersweet Horizon is a testament to the band’s maturity; with their new wave sound and a do-it-yourself effort Awake! Awake! have produced another solid release.

The album starts off with energy, tracks like “Distance” and “Firing Squad” capture your attention.  You can’t help but start to move with the beat on “Distance”, and with catchy choruses you’ll be singing along in no time.  Also early in the first track is the presence of synth, a sound that is present throughout the record and really adds an another element to Awake! Awake!‘s already solid sound.  “Firing Squad” leads off with some crowd vocals before falling into an upbeat, toe-tapping pace.  The pop quality on this record is really apparent; these songs could appeal to fans across many genres, finding themselves on radio or indie homes like Paste Magazine.

There are some outstanding tracks on the album that really showcase Andrew’s ability to craft a song.  The melody lines throughout the album are great, so interesting and catchy.  David’s voice is unique and usually full of confidence.  There are a few moments when the vocals are swallowed up by the full sound of the band, something that is probably the result of limited resources available to the band.  The album was recorded and produced by the band in a home studio.  This makes their music much more than simply songs, they are telling a story.  These songs are full of passion and heart; the lyrics feature honesty and vulnerability when asking life’s tough questions.

Awake! Awake! consider themselves a faith-based band, and although most of their lyrics are veiled and ambiguous, you can see elements of their faith in songs like “Nemesis” and “Red”.  “Nemesis” discusses powerful misleading tactics of Satan, posing as God; “I’m begging you please don’t believe me blindly.  Time after time fear loves to hide behind absolutes.”  In “Red” the honesty is palpable, confessing “We’ve chased such counterfeit crowns.”  The lyrics are really impressive throughout, and while they were obviously crafted from the band’s personal stories, there is enough room for the listener to apply them to their own life.

Throughout Bittersweet Horizon there is a contrast between upbeat, pop songs and serious, intentional songs.  Some tracks are simple in layout, yet feature enough complexity that they avoid becoming “filler” on the album.  The songs all feature a wet feel; full of ambience and reverb.  Fans of 30 Seconds to Mars, the Killers, or even bands like Jimmy Eat World and U2 will enjoy Awake! Awake!

OVERALLBittersweet Horizon is a solid release, the songwriting is very good throughout the record.  The songs are catchy and the melodies are great to sing along with.  The overall production of the album is a little raw, absent of that over-produced sound that keeps a lot of us away from the mainstream bands.  This is hard-working music from a hard-working band, good energetic music for any occasion.