Sound — 6
Ultimately, we all expected the same sound from AVA. The fleeting, space-rock sound that they create is extremely similar and familiarly lifting as U2's. Their sophomore album continues the idea of seeing yourself in the world around you and how you can change your surroundings for the better. David Kennedy is in regular form on this album, but I say regular because upon listening, one gets the sense that his talents are being under-appreciated and misused on this CD. And unfortunately as an AVA fan, I was disappointed at the make-up of songs. Most if not all start with a 2-3 minute keyboard intro that builds to guitar and while not unbearable, it was utilized so much on the last album and gets a bit boring on this one. They needed to do something different and there are shining moments of originality here, but they're few and far between. Tom's voice gets a bit whiny at times, but Atom and Matt really bring AVA together. Not a bad sound, just predictable, over-used, unexciting and leaves no room for innovation.
Lyrics — 7
DeLonge can write some cryptic lyrics. He can also write some pretty hashed out, vague, and cliched lyrics. They continue the idea of optimism and spreading love which is nice because a lot of bands aren't doing that right now. Even still though, some of the lyrics seemed forced. Call to Arms is hopeful, Everything's Magic can give the listener a child-like perspective, Sirens is good, Secret Crowds is an obvious single, True Love is a bit dull and repetitive, Lifeline is nothing special, and Heaven is ok. The lyrics don't even garner a need for mention because they all end up blending together on the record. Honestly, it's a nice ambition, but when one write about love you can only go so far before you start to repeat yourself.
Overall Impression — 8
This isn't a bad album. Tom tends to talk-up his music which leaves a lot of people just looking for reasons to hate it. It's a decent follow up to We Don't Need to Whisper but nothing to write home about. I love the hopeful lyrics and eretheral space-rock sound, but it can only go so far before something different needs to be done. One of the major problems with the record is that it doesn't build and there isn't a climax. If Tom isn't excited himself about what he's singing, what reason do we have to get excited about it. If it were stolen, I would in all likelihood go out and buy it again. So there's that. Overall AVA fans will probably be pleased but DeLonge has got a long way to go before he's "changing Rock N' Roll history".