Angels & Airwaves – I-Empire

  • Bobby Gorman posted
  • Reviews

Angels & Airwaves

I-Empire - Suretone Records

No band has ever received such a polarizing reaction before ever even releasing a song as Angels & Airwaves did two years ago.

Yeah, they brought it on themselves, but it’s still rather surprising. Tom DeLonge’s creation of Angels & Airwaves was received with anticipation and laughter. Some people waited desperately to hear the band’s offering while others took the opportunity to mock Delonge as much as humanely possible. With promises to change the world of music as a whole and create life changing movies all the while claiming to be the universe’s greatest rock band, there was a relatively unlimited supply of content to latch on to and make fun of. Still, their debut sold really well and they carried on through the criticism; it never did change the world or make them the greatest rock band ever, but it did get a few heads turning with it’s stadium rock anthems.

Now, a year later, the band is back with their sophomore effort, I-Empire and a slightly different attitude for promoting it. They still kept some of that grandiose style that the band had become famous for, but DeLonge also toned it down a bit and explained some of his outlandish quotes in more detail. The question that is still hanging in the air though is whether or not I-Empire is closer to helping DeLonge accomplish his dreams of world domination or not.

The answer is still no, however, I-Empire is a step in the right direction.

On their sophomore album, Angels & Airwaves have kept the same highlights that lifted their debut up and maintained the same downfalls that bogged it down too. The record is still full of the same light, atmospheric, radio rock that filled We Don’t Need To Whisper. Simple, sweeping, guitar effects, steady drumming from Atom Willard and a solid rhythm backed by new bassist Matt Watcher. The music lifts you up and is catchy enough to keep you listening. DeLonge’s vocals are soft and big, far reaching and positive and only once drops back to the style that he perfected with Blink-182 (the beginning of Lifeline).

The lyrics alternate between simple but inspiring to nauseatingly repetitive. The constant repetition of “I love you, did you know that I love you?” drags down Breathe to an annoying low (just likeDistraction did previously) while the self-congratulatory storyline of Rite Of Spring is oddly inspiring (Everyday I wake and tell myself a little white lie, the whole wide world is mine) yet somewhat arrogant at the same time. There’s still some classic AVA lyrics found within the record, it just takes one listen to the lead single and anthem of hope, Everything’s Magic, to see that. It’s actually a nice contrast to the gloomy stalker-ish track of obsession that is Sirens.

Unfortunately, the same thing that bogged down We Don’t Need To Whisper drags down I-Empire too: it’s far too long. Each song is complemented with an overextended intro and outro, lengthening the songs to anywhere between four and six minutes each. It makes it so you lose interest and just as the first half of the album was energizing the second half feels tiring. Particularly with the addition of two instrumental tracks, Star Of Bethlehem and Jumping Rooftops, which elongates an already exasperating six minute song to a full eight minutes and nullifies the flow of the album.

If only DeLonge could reconnect with his Blink-182 influence and not take it quite so seriously, pull the songs down to earth and stop claiming to change the world, then Angels & Airwaves would be able to dominate the airwaves. As it is, I-Empire isn’t a bad record – just not as good as it could be. It won’t change anyone’s opinion on the band, and anyone who was entertained by their debut will be equally entertained by this offering.