For nearly six years, Charleston, S.C.’s Run Dan Run has been recording music, receiving fevered local praise, only lacking the reach to hit it nationally. However, their sophomore LP, Normal, could very well be the effort to make it happen. An ode to indie rock of the past and present, the album’s 11 tracks run on an influenced sound that finds individuality through darkness and clashing moods.
It’s loaded with personality. Through a series of emotionally charged pop tracks and percussion-driven slow burners, Normal explores the depths of heartbreak and life experiences, spearheaded by lead vocalist Dan McCurry. Few tracks come as fully charged as “Lovesick Animal”. Heavily reminiscent of Broken Social Scene, the seemingly quiet start gains momentum, sweeping guest female vocals and brass instrumentals into a lofty finish. The similarly influenced “Box-Type Love” receives a memorable chorus supported by the surrounding swells of drums.
Between the adrenalized tracks, Run Dan Run slows down for moments of introspection. Even with few lyrics on “False-Hearted Lover”, the tale of a lying lover is thick with gloom, as dabs of percussion and guitar reach an expanse before the slow emergence of McCurry’s croon. The group’s patience pays off, with each track’s addition highlighted before the inclusion of another. From the grit of an opening guitar (“Fresh Faces”) to a tempo change keyed up by an infectious hook, each layer is carefully placed. These elements work best together on closer “In Parts”, whose somber keys transform to whimsy, ringing out as the final haunting sounds of Normal.
Surpassing any chance of a sophomore slump, Run Dan Run has taken the time since their 2007 full length debut to improve. With Normal, they achieved the feature album they meant to create, definitively answering the question, “Who is Run Dan Run?”
Essential Tracks: “Lovesick Animal” , “Box-Type Love” , and “Fresh Faces”