Charleston-based Indie rock trio Run Dan Run pulled off what would make or break most bands: they recorded a full length record with each other from three completely different states. If the sound of the record is anything to go by, this test of the band’s dedication and cohesiveness was a very successful one.
I, personally, am a sucker for any album that starts off with a short instrumental introduction that kind of feels like a “Hey, what’s up? We’re gonna play this music for you, hope you like it,” along with a nice high five. Normal is a record with such an introduction, something that puts you in the right kind of mood for the rest of the tracks. Going from the dream-like instrumentations straight into the more fast-paced “Box Type Love” and “Lovesick Animal” after that, the latter of which I and a few good friends of mine were in the music video for. These two are the “party tracks” of the record, being the fastest paced and most danceable. “Box Type Love,” while fast paced, has pretty serious and melancholy lyrics. The song explores a relationship that cannot grow anymore and has the people in it feeling trapped, while “Lovesick Animal” has a narrator telling the audience about his feelings towards a girl he’s in love with and the problems that may be keeping them apart. One of my favorite tracks from the record has to be “Cut Outs.” Not only do I dig the funky, jazzy instrumentals during the verses, the transition to the fast paced is seamless. It’s kind of the best of both sides of Run Dan Run: the fast and dance-y, akin to Broken Social Scene, and the slow and dreamy, which brings to mind Death Cab for Cutie or Bright Eyes.
My absolute favorite song on Normal is hands down, without a doubt “Gestures & Patterns.” It’s a song that attempts to make sense of certain dynamics of how people interact, hitting the nail on the head with front man Dan McCurry’s chilled out, whispering voice teaching us a lesson over a simple and captivating guitar track. “Finger & Fist” falls on the angrier side of RDR’s repertoire. The overall tone of it is a kind of desperate frustration that comes across most clearly in the chorus. Upon first hearing “Anonymous Girl” I thought it was about an idea of a girl, but the more I listened the more I realized that it was probably about an eye-catching lass that was seen in passing, perhaps in the line at a grocery store or studying at the library. It’s a good song, nonetheless, and hey, every great band has at least one “stalker” song, right? It’s not on the level of “Every Breath You Take” by any means, but it seems like they probably read the introduction of The Police’s “How To Tell Someone You Like Them Through Song” handbook. “Fresh Faces” is a song that I like to listen to when I’m overwhelmed. Whatever the intention of the song was, it relieves me a bit and makes me think, “Okay, someone else gets it.” “Spelling Words” is another favorite from the bunch. I know the word “dream” or some variation of it is used very frequently to describe RDR’s music, but that’s what this song feels like. It sounds like something you’d hear in the background of a movie or television show when the main character is having a realistic dream about their significant other. It would go perfectly on the soundtrack of a CW drama series. The last track, “In Parts” is so honest and heartbreaking, which is reflected not only in the lyrics but the music as well. The song is full of lethargy, which is usually a bad thing, but in this case it works.
Compared with the band’s first full length Basic Mechanics, Normal comes from a much more somber place. As a whole, the songs are slower, more sorrowful and wise than frustrated and impatient. The amount of growth that took place between the two is evident; Normal is the result of nearly five years of maturation not only musically but when it comes to relationships and friendships as well. It can safely be assumed that, simply by growing older, the trio went through immense transitions that reflect very sharply in the growth of their music. Dan, Ash, and Nick created an amazing collection of stories and life lessons together. Although the physical separation has been and will continue to be an obstacle, I fully believe that they can achieve even greater heights in whatever future efforts they collaborate on.