Alison Wonderland gets experimentally profound in ‘AWAKE’ [Album Review]
Alison Wonderland strips down to the bone with the release of AWAKE, an exquisite illustration of an artist’s self-exploration.
The self-made producer is known for her galvanizing productions and performances, which have projected her into the limelight of dance music over the last few years. With a robust fanbase that continues to support her constantly-evolving talent, she’s been riding a continuous wave of success. News recently broke of her becoming the highest billed female DJ in Coachella‘s history, which in conjunction with Wonderland’s other accomplishments, has led the eager anticipation of Run’s successor to reach peak intensity.
Released on the prestigious Astralwerks label, AWAKE draws an exemplary group of talented collaborators — from rappers to Grammy-award winning songwriters — each adding a refreshing spin on her sophomore album’s robust 14 original tracks.
The LP exposes the Australia native’s ability to create dynamically beautiful sounds and bundle each track into an overarching personal story that offers a deeper glimpse into different parts of her soul. She succeeds in holding listeners’ interest from the first track to the last, carefully blending together a wide range of sonic components to ensure each composition is unique from one another.
AWAKE’s story begins with the dramatic orchestral ballad “Good Enough,” whose cinematic arrangement gives way into the singular lyrics “Is it good enough?” before dropping into a triumphant closing segment. It almost feels like Wonderland asks this question ironically, and is really telling naysayers of her work that she is not afraid of their opinions. Next up comes the brightly melodic “No,” which transitions perfectly into the next album staple, “Okay” — an emotive narrative which showcases the artist’s forward-thinking trap sound. The track begins on a bubblier note then transcends into darker, more vulnerable territory with cascading vocals at the climax and gritty synthwork. “Easy” — painted eloquently with the Alison’s own lyrics and voice — continues down this shadier path conveying a grueling intimate tale about self-worth.
Another standout aspect of AWAKE is Wonderland’s choice of collaborators. It becomes clear that she chose each carefully, and the artistic chemistry between them is palpable. There is no shying away from experimentation in these team efforts; the Chief Keef-assisted “Dreamy Dragons,” for example, plays around with breaks and retro-inspired synth layers. “High,” which features Trippie Redd, is wildly atmospheric, almost poignant despite its uplifting lyrics. Wonderland’s arrangement of divergent beats and harmonies continue to add molecular strengths to the album’s composition.
“Happy Place” positions itself as the pivotal point in the anthology. It pairs traditional trap rhythms and basslines with simple, yet moving lyrics that imply a profound craving for emotional stability. Matching its lyrics is the piece’s chaotic array of instrumentation and sampling, which later come together into a more subdued ending. AWAKE nears its conclusion with an explosive “Sometimes Love” before ending on its most somber note with its title track. Its lyrics divulge into detailing a true portrait of self-realization, a beautiful moment for both artist and listener.
It’s safe to say that the words “sophomore slump” do not exist in Alison Wonderland’s book. In fact, she is only getting better with time. AWAKE only continues to build upon the brilliance that was Run, and more importantly proves just how much the creator has mastered and honed her sound.
High (feat Trippie Redd)
Here 4 U
Cry (feat Buddy)
Good Girls Bad Boys
Dreamy Dragon (feat Chief Keef)