Angels & Airwaves - Love: Part Two
Me and Music Emissions founder Dennis Scanland have been touting the merits of Tom Delonge's Angels and Airwaves project for years now. We've seemingly been alone in our love for the band's over-the-top, anthemic stadium rock leanings. Like a subtle mixture of U2, The Cure and a dose of spacey Pink Floyd, AvA are custom-built to be larger-than-life. Each successive album since their debut has done less and less to impress, mostly grating my nerves on the basis of repetition. It seems the mold has little room for improvisation, their core sound too basic in it's bombast for elaboration. But I will say, Love: Part Two has injected JUUUUST enough creativity to make a lasting impact. It is on par with I-Empire and just short of the initial impact of their debut, a fantastic collection of songs with a minimal amount of filler.
One of my favorite things AvA does is introduce a song, their thematic, other-worldly writing often creating peaks before a song truly begins. The moody, ominous feel at the onset of opener "Saturday Love" is maybe the best they've ever done it. And the song it introduces is pretty damn good, too. Delonge's vocals are aging terrificly well, still stuck in his early Blink years in terms of delivery but there's a certain aspect of maturity and sureness behind it that makes the atypical, cheesy lyrics a little more vital in the mixture. This is what gives "Surrender" it's oomph, a traditional Delonge anthem to the purity and security of hope in the face of surrounding tragedy. "Anxiety" is a bit weak in comparison, and "My Heroine (It's Not Over)" tries to be a highlight but doesn't quite hit all the right notes. "Moon As My Witness" and "Dry Your Eyes" are truly the best parts of Love:Part Two, the former a spiraling jaunt that segues smoothly into the latter, which makes good on the promise of "My Heroine" by being a truly lasting and well-built ballad. "One Last Thing" is one of Tom's finest vocal performances on record, moved forward almost solely on his melodies alone. "All That We Are" really sums the record up, and has an extended guitar passage that sounds eerily similar to some things I've heard from Deftones. Fantastic way to wrap it all up.
Where the first installment of Love left me on the fence with it's more extended and drawn-out nature, Love:Part Two reigns in their ambitions and goes back to what the band does best; short, powerful statements that, while definitely not original or unique in any fashion, do what they're constructed to do and aren't ashamed of it. And neither am I ashamed to still say I'm a big fan of what they do. I would dare to say they've short-changed themselves the past two records, and finally they prepared a true successor to We Don't Need To Whisper. It fits in their discography perfecty at this point, but I am not sure how much longer the band can continue to produce the all-too-familiar results we've become so accustomed to. They may need to drastically shift directions in order to stay on the collective radar.
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