Sound — 4
The futile pursuit of grandeur that occupies Tom DeLonge's Angels & Airwaves project is as funny as it is admirable. This album is the last instalment of a four-part package humbly entitled "Love", which includes two studio albums, a feature film and a live "multimedia event" which was held in August. Exactly why the Blink-182 frontman puts so much effort into covering his output with broad strokes of melodrama has been the subject of much speculation since AvA's debut in 2006 and it has already been announced that work is underway for another two albums and another two films. Potential titles on a postcard, please, but for now we have "Love II".
Fans of the band won't be surprised or disappointed to hear the sounds of synthesizers and U2 delay being delivered in swathes over typical DeLonge progressions and melodies. In fact they won't be surprised by anything on offer here; there's a touch less distortion here and a tighter structure there but these are reheated ideas and that, to put it nicely, diminishes the sense of occasion somewhat. Frontloaded with singles, the album serves up a number of basic hooks to begin with, and they go off without a hitch on the groove-driven pairing of "Surrender" and "Anxiety". But soon afterwards, as the poorly executed "Moon As My Witness" passes, the album descends into a mess: a mess with no impact, no consequence and all too much filler.
Lyrics — 3
If there's one thing we know about great songwriters, though, it's that they have the freedom to repeat themselves musically if they've really got something to say. Unfortunately DeLonge's craftsmanship hasn't quite matured alongside his subject matter since Blink-182's heyday. The prevailing theme is, of course, love, and the concept is an exploration of its different meanings and manifestations, traceable if only after some attentiveness to press releases. To his credit the lyrics could be a lot more pretentious given the premise but line after isolated line is nonetheless spun out in his contrived tone, the soundness of the rhyme often prioritised over good narrative.
"The ice is really cold/the street light's really old."
Indeed, Tom, indeed.
Overall Impression — 4
The naivety with which Angels & Airwaves puff out their chests is quite bizarre. On a musical level "Love II" is certainly not the worst set of songs you've ever heard, but it's the self-importance of it all that kills it let us not forget that DeLonge claimed his band's sound would "change the face of rock 'n roll" back in 2006. Through sheer persistence and repetition, maybe they will one day, but it might be time to concede that their music and their thematic ambitions simply do not mix because this is the musical equivalent of Kubrick making "2001: A Space Odyssey" a romantic comedy: it'd be a good deal simpler, but you'd be just as lost.