It’s hard to fathom that it’s been such a long wait for a new release from Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties. Here we are though, five years on from the release of the debut album When We Don’t Have Each Other and three years since the three-track Bittersweet.
The project of, and fronted by Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years recently announced the release of their second album Routine Maintenance, alongside teasing the release of new music with the new single “Runnin’ Toward the Light” now available to the glee of fans worldwide. But if it’s typical tearjerkers that you’ve come to look for, you might be better served looking elsewhere.
For those who aren’t familiar, Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties has been defined by Campbell as “a character study conducted through music.” Even more fascinating is that everything is completely fictional, following the story of Aaron West- a man from Brooklyn who lost his father, wife and unborn child all within the same year. Yet despite the fictitious nature of the songs, the sheer level of raw emotion that pours through them is incredible.
More than ever in an Aaron West song, the brand-new single radiates positivity and hopefulness, adding a genuine literalness to the songs title. From the brass section to the characteristic acoustic guitar, the song is exactly what fans of the project would expect and while it doesn’t really deviate from past material, the sincerity packed behind every syllable and music note makes this one of the bands most enjoyable listens yet.
“Spray-paint a twenty up on the overpass,
like a blood pact with the drifters we’ve become
in the soft, burgeoning sun.”
The matchless blend of the folk, country and indie genres a long with much more feels more defined than ever, but it is the affirmative and optimistic roots of the song that let it stand out against the remainder of the Aaron West discography. While previous songs like “Our Apartment” and “Grapefruit” ripped chunks from my heart (and still do), “Runnin’ Toward the Light” is anthemic and luminous as it reminisces on long drives through the country and paving your own path through life.
Lyrically, “Runnin’ Toward the Light” draws links between itself and songs both previously released and unreleased. It references ‘Robert’, a character in “’67 Cherry Red”, as well as ‘Jesse’, who was subletting Aaron’s old apartment during the events of Bittersweet, as well as referring to ‘Catherine’ and ‘Rosa’, characters who presumably will find their way onto Routine Maintenance. While potentially insignificant to some listeners, I find it’s this detail that makes the Aaron West narrative as immersive as it is, making it that much more pleasurable to delve into the world that Campbell has built.
The single also arrived alongside a music video that seems to perfectly capture everything that the song represents. Combining footage of the band performing with videos of travels across America it captures the free spirit and adventurous heart that defines the song. It is beautifully simple, and the lack of extravagance is again, a defining feature of the Aaron West narrative that makes it so attractive to listeners.
After waiting such a long time to hear more, “Runnin’ Toward the Light” is everything that I could have wanted and more. “Runnin’ Toward the Light” is the first single from Routine Maintenance, out May 10 via Hopeless Records.