‘Awake’ in Wonderland: A Review

Alison Wonderland’s sophomore album Awake dropped into our hot little laps last Friday, and I’ve been chomping at the mother-flying bit to review this record! And so, now that I’m (temporarily) free of my hospitality shackles – let’s press play, shall we?

Awake kicks off with an EDM-enhanced cello solo (played by Wonderland, herself); the passionate strings paving a path for a spectacular trap crescendo. But, is it ‘Good Enough’? You can bet your bountiful butt clams it is.

Sweeping declaration: this opening track is the new ‘Get Ready’ set-opener. And I’m not just saying that because my inebriated brain has faint memories of A.W opening her Sydney ‘Scarehouse’ with this baby. The off-kilter drop literally gives me gravity-pangs in my gut, and I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off this self-described musical diary/ rollercoaster of emotion.

Image source: Earmilk

From downright dirty beats to the pop-influenced ‘No’, we really catch a glimpse of Wonderland’s range in the second track. Already hailed as the ‘next big Summer hit’ in far corners of the web, this track was stuck in my head for a good few days after its initial release (just ask my partner). It isn’t my favourite on the record; nevertheless, it’s got a seriously contagious beat, and it’s certainly inspiring to see A.W’s vocal confidence grow.

To be perfectly candid, I wasn’t a fan of ‘Okay’ on first rotation. I’m putting it down to the fact that my first listen to the new record was on my shoddy iPhone 7 Plus. Word to the wise: this record has a pre-req for bassy speakers. Let’s just say, the stereo in my Mazda teeters on the edge of ‘completely blown’ after a weeks’ worth of whipping AwakeI’ve since come to conclude that the third track on this album is a grower not a shower, and at risk of perpetuating this overtly sexual adage – came to be a bit of an ear worm. It’s a real different sound for Alison, and yet another unexpected jolt on this aural rollercoaster.

Next track ‘Easy’ is the new ‘down-spiralling in love and depression’ anthem. It’s catchy – tick. It’s upbeat – tick. It’s relatable AF – TICK.

‘Walked into the bathroom / Just so I could cry / Wish I knew why / Oh baby, why don’t you find someone easy?’

For anyone that has suffered/suffers from depression and anxiety – this track will undoubtedly ring true on a deeper level. Wonderland admits that ‘Easy’ raps on those unexplained bouts of tears and depression, even when life around you seems outwardly fine.

These moments of insecurity are magnified tenfold in a relationship – uncontrollable emotions evoke compounded thoughts of, ‘what’s wrong with me, that I can’t even be happy when nothing is overtly wrong’, to ‘my S.O doesn’t deserve to deal with this’ – which inevitably leads to ‘baby, why don’t you find someone easy?’.

It’s raw, and yet the juxtaposition of the somewhat summery melody instils hope that love can eke out the nasty thoughts and emotions of down-spiralling in depression. Sappy, I know.

PHWOAR. Okay, ‘High feat. Trippie Redd’ is, just, the epitome of a pearler track. Trippie’s vocals stoke some kind of chanting animal from within, and GOD HELP anyone that’s within the vicinity of my car when I’m belting this cracker out along with him. And for the record, if I’m ever in a car accident: it’s highly likely that it’ll be as a result of me twerking down to this ditty behind the wheel. Insert 10 x ‘Italian kissy fingers’ emojis.

Alison Wonderland Feat. Trippie Redd 'High'
Image source: EDM Sauce

Same goes for ‘Here 4 U feat. BLESSUS’. YIKES! Fire on fire on fire for all of eternity. This track and ‘High’ have probably already slipped into the annals of my Spotify Most Played… the record has been out for a week; so, just let that sink in. I am so excited to hear what else this RnB enigma has in the works, and I’ll happily endorse a future BLESSUS x A.W. collab.

I’m not going to bother writing about Church and Happy Place – they’re bloody spectacular, but they’ve been out for a while. Feel free to read what I’ve had to say about them elsewhere on the internet.

Next up, ‘Cry’  – and yep, you guessed it! Another catchy tune that I’ve been singing (and grinding to) relentlessly – much to the distaste of my partner. Not because it’s a bad track, but because I am horrendously tone-deaf, and let’s face it – embarrassingly white. It’s a frightening combo, but if Alison can get rhythmically uncoordinated people down to clown then props to her. Once again, my sincerest apologies to anyone that catches a glimpse of me sitting in traffic, popping my shoulders to this bad boy.

Also, calling it now: ‘I just want to make a grown man cry’ will be THE mantra of the post-Weinstein/#MeToo 2018.

Now whether it’s a case of undiagnosed ADHD and/or my tendency to relentlessly flog my favourite tracks, I must admit that the remainder of Awake fell a little flat on my ears. That certainly isn’t saying that the rest of the tracks are shite – not in any way. ‘Good Girls Bad Boys’ and ‘Sometimes Love’ are fucking outstanding, and get my juices flowing akin to some of the other certified bangers that appear earlier in the record.

Vid credit: YouTube user Jessica C

Admittedly, ‘Dreamy Dragon’ doesn’t particularly do it for me. But, I have noticed that the ‘poppier’ sounding tracks on the record haven’t excited me as much as the devastatingly filthy trap and bass offerings – so, that could just be my fickle musical preferences at play.

Having said that, titular track ‘Awake’ wraps this musical gift up perfectly – giving us one last taste of Wonderland’s improving vocal range. The uplifting track instils imagery of a BIC lighter-waving crowd swaying along to this rousing ode… not sure if I’m pulling this mental imagery from my hazy memory of Scarehouse or not. If someone could confirm, that would be great.

All in all, Alison Wonderland has kicked out yet another dope record. This fire producer is ahead of her game, and seeing her dominate on the world stage stirs an intense patriotism in me. As for Awake? I certainly can’t see myself turning this album off any time in the foreseeable future.

Hop in ya vehicle of choice and bust out this bad boy, ASAP. Listen on Spotify, here. 

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