Alison Wonderland has been very vocal about the production process of her sophomore album. She has talked about the anxieties, the struggles, the successes and done so all with a level of vulnerability that we rarely see from artists today. Having just listened to her album, ‘Awake', I am shocked. Not that I ever doubted her as an artist, but what she was able to accomplish is truly inspiring. The range present in this LP is not only impressive but downright captivating. Each song is unique and deploys a style that is entirely its own. In my opinion, Ms. Wonderland might just have the album to beat in 2018.
As I mentioned above, ‘Awake' has a surprising range of styles on it. From soft, introspective cuts, to all-out main stage bangers – the album features everything a fan of electronic music could want. Alison ever hopped on vocals for a few tracks, and if I didn't know that beforehand I would have thought it was a classically trained vocalist holding down the singing (if she is classically trained than whoops).
Tracks like ‘Happy Place' explore a more experimental sound design than we have previously heard from Alison Wonderland. The builds and drops are unique in structure and make for a listening experience that is well interesting. Many of the songs make the listener think and push themselves to stray outside of the comfort zone of what they commonly expect. That is what good music does – push boundaries.
While many of the tracks were entirely Alison alone, she did enlist some help from a few high profile artists on collaborations. ‘Dreamy Dragon' featuring Chief Keef is not one might expect from a collaboration between the two. It has a progressive, dreamy element to it that seems like it might not fit. That is what Alison Wonderland achieves perfectly in this LP – she breaks the mold of what is expected, and to do so successfully is not easy.
A collaboration with BLESSUS called ‘Here 4 U' might be the hardest record on the album. A hard-driving distorted bass line and unforgiving trap elements make this one a full-on face melter. It is just disgusting in the best way possible.
Overall ‘Awake' is what an album should be. It explores new territory while still featuring what the artist does best. I have had such an enjoyable time listening and writing this article that I barely want the final song to conclude. Alison Wonderland might be a small woman in appearance but beneath the surface lies a massive monster of music production ability. Easily this piece of art gets 5 stars. If you disagree with me, fight me.
Photo Via Roger Ho / Lollapalooza 2017