Review Summary: Just as one could start to believe in them...
Should I really begin with the damn obvious? No, I can't. Everyone just heard it again and again, the DeLonge quote announcing the "best rock record in decades". But it almost seems like an obligation to start off an Angels & Airwaves review like that. Simply because it isn't as laughable as it was back in 2006, it is even more nowadays. Five years in the product of Tom DeLonge's more than a bit narcissistic space-rock playing field, he started after blowing up blink-182, was not one ground-breaking masterpiece. Instead people got three LPs that swayed somewhere in between pompous, self-staging crap and bombastic U2-esque boredom. Au contraire, one might say, 2010's "Love"
doesn't fit into those categories, being entertaining, balanced, focused and a damn fun listen at times. But just as one could start to believe in the qualities of A&A, all they do is demonstrating us all their flaws in just one record.
Why that happens isn't that much of a mystery, if you take a few minutes to compare their work on "Love: Part Two"
with their earlier material. Because Tom obviously got to a point were he doesn't really know what to do anymore, so he just reuses half a dozen songs he's written before and tries to conceal that with an even more accessible, pop-based sound. Let's just take a look at opener Saturday Love
. After an intro that somehow manages to be reminiscent of both, Eurythmics and the X-Files opening song, you get the same jangly guitars that defined "I-Empire"
and the same pseudo-personal lyrics that made Tom look like a fool years before. Yet, hating it seems hard, seeing that the feeling for catchy pop hooks and a chorus that draws you into the songs instantly - no matter if you like it or not - is still there.
That very quality defines many up-beat tunes here. Lead single Anxiety
features a heavy riff that harkens back to The War
, is reminiscent of a dozen U2 songs. With its kind of hymnic chorus and the straight-forward approach it is one of the few saviors of this record. The other one has to be the infectious jam One Last Thing
. Maybe I'm the only one, who thinks that it starts off in the vein of an 80's adventure game soundtrack. No matter if so, cause the jangly guitars and the vintage synths paired with Atom Willard's great drums make for one of their most relaxed and joyful tunes and definitely for one of their most memorable too.
So far, so good. What drags down many other tunes however is the obvious recycling of some of the band's earlier songs. The fast-paced Surrender
takes its melody and especially it's chorus directly from Sirens
, ruins it with some of the crappiest lines in rock history though:
"When God falls fast asleep
Dry Your Eyes
The kids still move to a steady beat
Even if its bombs landing at their feet
Or all around I'm just saying that this time I feel it now"
on the other hand is a sped up version of "Love"
, lacking the atmosphere of the latter, instead aiming for another catchy tune, only this time it ends in mediocrity hardly worth mentioning.
Listening to the slower tracks another problem pops up. It's no mystery that DeLonge's lyrics, floating around somewhere in the waters of ultimate cheesiness and the longing for them to sound meaningful, are at times cringeworthy, sometimes even worse. That's all the more obvious in the balladesque songs with the music just setting the stage for his voice and his message. Problematic both because of the highly unspectacular instrumentation, helplessly trying to build up some atmosphere, and because of the almost comical lines you find in there.
So neither Moon As My Witness
nor the slightly Cure-inspired The Revelator
and especially not the embarrassing closer All That We Are
- think Green Day's Are We The Waiting
only way further down on the road to infinite pathos - have too much to offer. Even more so as Moon As My Witness
only expands the instrumental that was the Shove
-outro a year earlier, The Revelator
is rhythmically in the same territory as Hallucinations
and all that gets "supported" by the boring slow piano-remake of Anxiety
, My Heroine
Somewhere in that lifeless mess you find a lone wolf, a diverting piece called Behold A Pale Horse
. Building on the formula of One Last Thing
, the distinctive pairing of cheap sounding keys and memorable drums, it marks the last attempt to save what can't be saved anymore.
Usually I hate to refer to so many different songs just to describe an album. But it seemed inevitable this time. Cos the main reason why entertaining doesn't exactly fit as a description for "Love: Part Two"
is its overuse of old ideas, of long heard melodies. Now I'm not the guy that screams rip-off whenever two songs sound alike, but the reproduction of the band's very own material is everything but a blessing for fans, mostly due to the rather lacklustre way the it is done here. Hardly ever this album comes off as vital, energetic or even well-balanced. Too much is outdated, too much sounds stale and too often it seems like the big guy on the mic doesn't really know what to do with his backing band. A setback, a letdown, an inglorious ending to the promising "Love" project. And still it isn't their worst album…
One Last Thing