Review: Rock in the name of ‘LOVE’
Published: Thursday, February 18, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 21:02
After the album-opening instrumental, "Et Ducit Mundum Per Luce," Angels & Airwaves singer Tom DeLonge can be heard distant and echoing. "I'm floating and something's reaching out/ Vibrations, can you hear them now/ Please help us, we're running out of time/ My brothers, we are deathly out of line."
And then like a gunshot to the head of the universe, "LOVE," the third album from DeLonge's side project, makes its presence felt. He continues to sing on "The Flight of Apollo," "It's over, from the heavens on down/ Heard footsteps, God's coming around," and then the synth-induced calm is ripped apart with a raw guitar riff.
While this aggressive beginning may seem an unusual way to open an album for the normally tame Angels & Airwaves, it was really the only way to do it. It's been three years since their sophomore effort "I-Empire," and since then the band has been pretty quiet, mostly because DeLonge reopened communications with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, his bandmates in Blink-182, which eventually led to a reunion tour and the beginning stages of a new album.
But unlike the now-defunct +44, DeLonge vowed Angels & Airwaves was not over, and "LOVE," which is available for free on the band's Web site, is proof of just that.
"LOVE" as a whole is an exceptional feat. Their space-age orchestra sounds awe-inspiring as ever but remains very similar to what they created on their debut four years ago. So, while Angels & Airwaves won't exactly be turning any heads with the sound produced a lot of effort went into crafting a series of songs that melt into one another like one fluid odyssey.
The story continues: on "We Don't Need To Whisper," DeLonge was blasting off into the unknown in search of love; "I-Empire" featured a more confident singer ruling his newfound kingdom. Now "LOVE" finds him unsure yet again, questioning everything on tracks like "Hallucinations" and the Boxcar Racer sequel, "Letters to God, Part II." It all feels so logical.
That doesn't mean that there aren't any standout tracks, though. While the album feels a bit front-loaded before veering into a forgettable second half like "I-Empire" did, there are some notable tracks that rank among the best in their catalogue.
For starters, the dance groove "Young London" is a certified head-bobber, much like their previous single, "Everything's Magic." I've always appreciated DeLonge's lyrical style, and it's nice to hear something a little more fun and carefree, like when he sings, "Suit up boys/ Let's ride, it's the weekend/ Get down girls and dance with your best friends/ Show yourselves and take what you ask for/ Let it go, no fights on the dance floor."
"Epic Holiday" offers a pseudo-R&B synth line like something out of a The-Dream track at its outset that evolves into a pretty standard riff, but remains lurking in the background. It's a different sound that Angels & Airwaves hasn't explored before, which is refreshing. It resurfaces in the chorus as DeLonge shouts, "Let's start a riot/ Nobody's right, nobody's wrong/ Life's just a game, it's just one epic holiday."
On the back end of the album, there's the aforementioned "Letters to God, Part II," which will be meaningful to most longtime Blink-182 and Boxcar Racer fans, but shares nothing with the original song but the title, and "Hallucinations," the lead single off of "LOVE," which also leaves something to be desired despite its catchy hook. By design, it's a pretty standard pop-rock song and feels as if it was crafted to merely promote the album, but it will grow on people if given enough listens.
Despite lasting nearly an hour, "LOVE" seems to end rather abruptly without a hint of what's to come in the future for the band. While DeLonge kept his word about an Angels & Airwaves continuation, one can't help but wonder if the writing is on the wall for the group since he's returned to his true full-time position in Blink-182. The uncertainty throughout "LOVE" could be merely a coincidence, but what if it's not? How long can the love really last?