Recommended Tracks: “Ur Name on a Grain of Rice”, “Monochrome,” “Awash”
Artists You May Like: Jodi, Skullcrusher, Field Medic
Time continues to tick, feelings never change, and it freaks Noah Weinman out. The idea of time and emotions consistently repeating themselves traces its way throughout Runnner’s debut album, crafting a compelling introductory statement for one of the brightest new voices in indie music.
Always Repeating is composed of rerecorded versions of Runnner’s previously released EP Awash and the inclusion of his 2020 EP One of One as-is. The album’s construction in this fashion has an effect on its overall cohesion — over Always Repeating’s runtime, it doesn’t feel as if Weinman is necessarily trying to make a grand artistic statement with the album. Instead, you get the sense that he’s compiling a “greatest hits” of Runnner to introduce himself to a larger audience. The lo-fi hum of the early recordings has been polished into a more pristine sound, but the dense layering of instrumentation remains and it’s entrancing when Weinman’s songs get locked into a groove. As the title suggests, the songs of Always Repeating rely on a lot of repetition, giving the illusion that they’re simply built until a new climax comes to bowl you over. Songs like “Heliotrope” and “Awash” take on a circular shape, slowly ascending upward into a kind of catharsis that makes you wish every song could be five minutes longer — that you could keep climbing right alongside him. This is Weinman’s greatest strength as a songwriter; his ability to dynamically work a song from a barebones arrangement (often just his voice and a simple guitar pattern) to a full, intricate peak (with the many instruments being played by Weinman alone) is unparalleled among other songwriters.
Lyrically, Weinman draws on his past experiences that can often recall a specificity only felt by him just as much as it can communicate a greater feeling that’s carried by all. This is a record to cry to or laugh with as Weinman focuses on feelings of isolation and anxiety in the modern age. Take the advance single “Urgent Care”; while we might not be able to relate to the humorous story of falling in love with someone at an urgent care, the casual sigh of Weinman addressing how he “Got rejected from a new job / In the parking lot” is relatable to anyone who feels as if problems upon problems are piling up on top of them. “Trundle Bed” is one of the most bare and resonating songs on the album, with Weinman reflecting upon a night with a former partner in their “furnished rental room”, leading to a more general and heartbreaking recollection of the end of a relationship: “I think about you often but it’s so often late at night / And someday I’d like to ask if all this distance feels all right / But we don’t talk much and when we do we always fight”. It all builds to “Ur Name on a Grain of Rice”, which is the peak of the album and arguably the masterpiece of Runnner’s discography thus far. When Weinman explodes in the back half that “I can’t stand to be alone / Cos’ it’s so easy to ignore me”, the guitars and banjos swell upward with the added harmonies to create a moment that will be irreplicable on any other album released this year. It’s the type of communal moment that begs to be heard live, shouted alongside your friends standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
In a somewhat oversaturated world of Bon Iver and Pinegrove acolytes, Runnner stands alone in his ability to create genuine feeling in his music. Always Repeating is dense and memorable in both its songwriting and production, and one can only hope that this impressive introduction to Weinman’s sound will throw down the gauntlet for other songwriters to harness this emotion in a similar fashion.