Illenium – Awake (Album Review)

Illenium’s sophomore album ‘Awake’ is nothing short of a masterpiece. The San Francisco-based producer returned to the studio to release his follow-up to the critically acclaimed ‘Ashes.’ Since the release of ‘Ashes’ and his streak of remixes and collaborations, Illenium has been on a meteoric rise and the 13-track album continues to illustrate his impressive talents.

Known for his blend of heart-wrenching melodies and shaking bass, Illenium’s productions invoke an emotional response that few can. Opening with the powerful ‘Needed You,’ his collaboration with Dia Frampton, the tone is set from the beginning that he is soaring to new heights. The echoing tones blended with her haunting voice is a quite the pairing, soon giving way to a heavy breakdown. The track sets the stage for the rest of the album.

With four previous singles released before the album: ‘Crawl Outta Love,’ ‘Fractures,’ ‘Sound of Walking Away,’ and ‘Feel Good;’ there is a quality mixture of staples that fans have come to love and appreciate and emerging favorites. Among the tracks that are soon to make an impression is ‘Free Fall,’ a wonderful collaboration with RUNN, who’s soothing voice truly shines when complimented with Illenium’s beats.

Said the Sky and Illenium’s friendship has led to the partnership fostering collaborations and appearances during each other’s sets and their latest production, ‘Where’d U Go,’ is another high-point on the album. Featuring a bouncy beat, the track offers a nice change of pace from the opening four, creating a different feel and injecting energy. With Illenium’s nationwide tour just around the corner and Said the Sky joining as support, it makes you hope that more collaborations will be in the cards soon. ‘Beautiful Creatures’ follows along the same energetic feel as ‘Where’d U Go,’ blending a light-hearted melody with a rhythmic drop. MAX’s soulful lyrics blend with the happiness of the melodies, playfully going along and creating a soothing track that cannot help but place a smile on your face. These two tracks show Illenium’s diverse production chops, showing range and inspiration.

While the entire album is truly incredible, one song steals the show, ‘Leaving.’ Opening with a chilling voice message, the track quickly gives way to EDEN’s gut-wrenching vocals. The pairing of his voice with snares leading up to the drop is poetic and when the breakdown comes, it sends chills down your spine. ‘Leaving’ will be the lasting memory of the album, not because the rest of the tracks fall short, but because it is a true masterpiece. Emotion invoking, precise production, and exquisite vocals, the track brings all aspects into one piece of magic.

Illenium’s ‘Awake’ album truly beats the patented sophomoric slump and delivers on all facets. Blending new uplifting styles with his patented melodic beats, the album has a sound for all. Incorporating incredible collaborations as well, it leaves the fans waiting for even more material from the genius.