Review Summary: Angels and Airwaves begin to mature and progress as a band and they do it all for free.
Angels and Airwaves quietly return with the follow up to I-Empire, LOVE. DeLonge has had quite the adventure with this band from controversial statements to trying to save the world. DeLonge seems to have realized his limits are as far as his talents will let him reach, which is not the arena-rock king and saviour of music that he once tried to be, so he digs up his familiar musical roots to put him back on solid ground with this new album, but still sticks to the AVA sound.
All the songs in LOVE deliver the way that they were packaged to; they don't try too hard. This album is the epitome of Tom's writing style with experimentation through swirly space effects, therefore giving us AVA music! Of course not every song hits the nail on the head, but the band is starting to find a groove. Instead of inserting two minute organ intros that all sound like Valkyrie Missile or the Adventure, the band experiments with more dark and mysterious tones that actually tie into other tracks and don't waste 2 and half minutes of time and money; they are making better use of their time. The songs have more depth in their lyrics and music, which lets you get lost in the flow of this album. A song like Shove features great lyrics and a smooth drum and bass line with a hooking sort of prelude that connects perfectly to Epic Holiday. This is just one good example of how AVA make good use of continuity throughout the flow of the album.
"Sometimes it comes with a shove, we fall in love."
Epic, experimental, and at moments unpredictable is how you could describe LOVE. A start to an album is extremely important and it's opener, Et Ducit Mundum Per Luce intrigues with a mature sound as I thought it was reminiscent of a new Coldplay tune (arguably). The band gives us a more mature sound that isn't afraid to experiment (no money, no pressure?). We're hearing some of the same Angels and Airwaves type riffs like in Letters To God Part II, but it's the new raw and dark edge to the music like in The Flight Of Apollo and Young London, that draws different inspiration to this album, which is really what Angels really needed; a new way to communicate their music other than trying to be Arena-Rock U2 copy cats. There is really a lot going on this album, it keeps busy in all musical aspects by giving us everything AVA have to offer. And not only AVA, but we can hear a little Blink-182 and especially Boxcar Racer in some of the tracks (Young London) as inspiration and not sources for DeLonge to steal ideas from.
But what makes this album even more fresh? Songs like Shove, Moon-Atomic, Apollo, Soul Survivor (...2012) etc. give us new elements to Angels and Airwaves. Strange and spacey effects are nicely accompanied by descriptive and imaginative lyrics instead of simple modern "lovey" ones that don't fit the mystique of some of the music, which I felt made songs like Love Like Rockets on the I-Empire album feel incomplete with it's very plain and ordinary lyrics to epic music. The typical Angels song structure seemed to begin with a lengthy, lengthy "epic" organ type intro then would build-up with a delayed guitar with very similar melodies (Heaven, Valkyrie Missile, Star Of Bethlehem/True Love, etc.), which may have worked for some, but definitely got tired out. On LOVE, Angels and Airwaves close some of these gaps...
However, a song like Hallucinations is really just a continuation of the previous album I-Empire. It's unnecessary intro and odd verses where Tom sounds like a chipmunk with lines in the chorus like "Do you believe in hallucinations, silly dreams, or imagination", then the bridge "It's beautiful, so beautiful", brings nothing new to the table and comes off as predictable for this band. It's song structure is reminiscent of I-Empire songs like Love Like Rockets and Call To Arms. Almost the exact same can be said about Epic Holiday, though it starts off bright, it blends into a typical Angels song following the same old routine. Clever Love is almost Breathe Pt.2 and with a listen you'll realize it's dull tones and repetitive lines drag on and let the song attract nothing for the listener. I can use lyrics from Breathe and place them in the verses of Not-So-Clever Love and make them fit; defines a "filler" track.
Lyrics on the album sometimes drift too far into techie non-sense that sound uninspired and laughable, i.e. "This angel recital is king of all sounds" or "With you as my host, I'll keep us afloat.", which are trying too hard to be epic and their meanings seemed diminished by the choice of words if there is any meaning at all. With the loss of a lot of the teen-poppy hooks as on previously written songs (Everything's Magic, Love Like Rockets, Distraction, etc.), the band probably won't gain as much attention without it's usual bait. Though no one should judge a book by it's cover, some of the titles sound ridiculous (Flight of Apollo, Soul Survivor (...2012) etc.). To the point, the simple theme of love is confused with Prog-Rock-like titles such as these and can be deceiving since the songs would still fit under the punk-pop category. It's as if someone made this track list up and posted it on Wikipedia, it doesn't do the songs any justice.
Angels and Airwaves are starting to learn their limits as musicians and sound really tight and mature as a band on some spots of the album (Listen to the end of Some Origins of Fire) and it's really too bad that this could be the end of them. Combining Boxcar Racer styles and a bit of Blink-182 (a riff in Young London highly resembles M&M's) with delayed guitars, 80's synths, and far-out effects, this album contains a unique bunch of songs, but some of it we've heard before. No one can really doubt that Angels and Airwaves have always had potential, but they never really could stay consistent after releasing The Adventure. On Love, that potential and consistency shines through just a little bit more than previous records.
-DeLonge finds new inspiration lyrically and musically
-Tracks well grouped together at full-length
-Too many laser beam and swirly type effects
-Songs drift midway through the album, lose attention
-Weak lyrics at times
For a good approach to the album:
The Flight of Apollo
The Moon-Atomic (...Fragments and Fictions)
Soul Survivor (...2012)
Letters To God Part II