Angels & Airwaves - LOVE
Record Label: Geffen
Release Date: February 14, 2010
Take everything you know about Angels & Airwaves and throw it out the window. Forget that the front man Tom Delonge is the center of all of the blink-182/Angels & Airwaves comparisons and controversy. I urge everyone to take at least one objective listen to LOVE in its entirety. You might be surprised.
The opening track “Et Ducit Mundum Per Luce" (which roughly translated means “he leads the world with light”) starts out with a roughly echoed piano part that over the course of two-and-a-half minutes is a great intro to show that the production and musicianship of LOVE is going to be top notch. The opening intro leads into “The Flight of Apollo”, which by all accounts is hands down one of the best songs of the Angels & Airwaves catalogue, opening with a slow piano and techno line as Tom sings softly over the combo until the songs breaks down into a truly kick-your-ass-heavy guitar riff that immediately brings back a little bit of Box Car Racer memories. The songs takes the shape of songs past like “The War” from We Don’t Need to Whisper and “Secret Crowds” from I-Empire. The song has a really melodic chorus and is definitely a stand out on this album.
The music flows directly into “Young London”, which opens with the fastest shredding riff Angels & Airwaves has ever recorded. While this is easily the highlight of the track, the song is an overall solid song that seems to slightly break from the typical Angels & Airwaves song style, and after the track's completion, leaves the listener thinking that maybe, just maybe, Angels & Airwaves are showing some nice progression musically. Unfortunately this does not prove true over the course of LOVE in its entirety. The end of “Young London” is also the first time the listener is presented with an outro. These little musical segues are actually, in my opinion, pretty nice, but they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. It would have been nice to see them go Relient K’s route (on their album Forget and Not Slow Down) and make each one its own short track as it leads into the next song, but this is only a small complaint.
“Shove” is where we seem to get back into something that you’d typically expect from Angels & Airwaves. Statement said, it is not saying this is a bad song at all. Musically, it sounds like a nice combination of their first two records. The high point of this song, however, is the lyrics, which overall is one of the weaker components of LOVE. “Sometimes it comes with a shove, when you fall in love.” The track also ends with an outro that features a woman softly talking of love over a small guitar and synth track. “Epic Holiday” is the first track on the album that actually has an extended intro lasting slightly over a minute. This is a feel-good track with an upbeat tempo, where at the beginning of the chorus you can hear the emotion in Tom’s voice when he yells, “Let’s start a riot!” One small complaint is that the verse guitar sounds an awful lot like the chorus guitar part in I-Empire’s “Everything’s Magic”. The following track is the albums first single “Hallucinations”. It seems somewhat odd that the single has the longest intro on the album, but nonetheless is very single-worthy. The song is overall very catchy, but lacks the depth of some of the brighter spots of LOVE. A plus on the song, and pretty much the entire album, is the vocals. Of course there’s definitely some correction going on, (but these days it’s hard to find albums that don’t), but I love how he sings them more in the style of how he would be singing them live.
“The Moon-Atomic (…Fragments and Fictions)” opens with a very welcoming guitar riff, followed by a lovely drum beat as Delonge sings the first verse. The chorus is accompanied by a great strings piece, and is also another high point for the album lyrically. “The moon you've felt, it has no side, that's dark like hell, or safe from light.” Another outro follows the track that foreshadows some of the upcoming lyrics over an eerie beat that leads into “Clever Love”. This is the albums first true disappointer, but not necessarily for the song itself, but rather the fact that the verse sounds like it was almost exactly recycled from I-Empire’s “Breathe”, musically and melodically. Production is still top notch, however this maybe be the albums first truly dull moment (not to mention a guitar riff in the latter half of the song that is very reminiscent to the riff in I-Empire’s “Lifeline”).
“Soul Survivor (…2012)” helps pick the album back up. Low synths, a catchy techno part, and low vocals all mesh together before an awesome guitar kicks in to pick the song up. This is also the first song that features the oft criticized “Yay-Oh, oh” type thing Angels & Airwaves have often incorporated into songs their past two albums, but seems perfectly in place in “Soul Survivor” and actually enhances the song. “Letters to God, Part II” begins with more synth and a tehno-ish guitar that leads into a soaring riff that has all the ‘typical’ Angels & Airwaves effects, but is done so very nicely. The track is just overall solid, nothing out of the ordinary, but a pleasurable listen. LOVE closes with “Some Origins of Fire” that has an intro that slowly builds up with a guitar intro somewhat like that at the beginning of “The Adventure” where the guitar fades in and out with massive delay. The verse also somewhat sounds like that of “The Adventure”. The song closes while the full band plays for the last minutes with a solid guitar part playing while the music slowly fades out. While the song is good overall, it is not nearly the closer the “Heaven” and “Start the Machine” were for their respected albums.
On the whole, LOVE is definitely a well crafted and thought out album. It’s clear how much they have put into it all. Atom Willard shows great drumming as usually throughout all the tracks and did a great job experimenting on some of the songs and outros. Matt Wachter really shows off his synth skills with this album and David Kennedy will do a great job playing rhythm guitar live (joke, but in all seriousness he does have an important role in the studio). Musically, this is Angels & Airwaves most polished and well produced album to date. I feel like this is what Delonge was aiming for musically since the bands inception. However, the one thing that I feel is holding the album back from being truly great is the lyrics. While there are bright spots, it tends to be average at best and sometimes borderline laughable. While hyping the album, Delonge made comments such as “this album is the pinnacle of my creativity” and “this is the biggest release of my life”. The first one is hard to agree with. There are too many times where you get the “wait, I’ve heard this before” thought. Too many recycled guitar parts and vocal melodies. The latter may prove to be true however. The release was hyped up for being free, but more importantly is the release of the LOVE movie. About four years in the making, if it is something that gets a theatrical release nationwide, and also in other countries, could be huge for the band. This however, remains to be seen. What we have right now though, is an amazingly solid album that shows that the band is headed in the right direction.
Pretty decent review, I generally enjoy the song-by-song break-downs. And yes, everyone should give this a listen regardless of their preconceptions about Angels & Airwaves - if you think they suck, you'll think this sucks a lot less.
'Take everything you know about Angels & Airwaves and throw it out the window. Forget that the front man Tom Delonge is the center of all of the blink-182/Angels & Airwaves comparisons and controversy. I urge everyone to take at least one objective listen to LOVE in its entirety. You might be surprised.
The opening track “Et Ducit Mundum Per Luce"---
I'm sorry, there's no way I could continue after seeing that. Fucking LOL.