Sound — 7
What is the modern-day concept album? I have yet to officially review the third Angels And Airwaves release, "LOVE", and will briefly summarize before delving into its second part. Until the release of "LOVE", Angels And Airwaves had achieved success to and no further than the point of "another side project." Melodrama and overly simplistic lyrics have been the band's most obvious fault, but it seemed a vessel for frontman Tom DeLonge's post-182 style had come with the release of "LOVE" in 2010. Repetitious melodies and less-than-complex lyrics fall quite easily across the canvas of a concept album. This is no more true than in Green Day's "American Idiot". I counted five chords the entire album over. Regardless, it is fair to say that "LOVE" delivered on a scale much greater than any previous AVA release, if not quite up to scratch with some of Blink's best. Stylistically it was a bit murky, but overall packed a more powerful punch than many of the rest of the year's scattered releases, especially on the alternative and rock fronts. In the digital age, it seems only "post" genres are keeping up. "LOVE: Part II" is more of "LOVE". Anyone expecting otherwise is going to be sorely disappointed. This isn't "Dude Ranch" to "Blink-182". It would be fair to treat the two halves of "LOVE" as one would the two disks of Pink Floyd's "The Wall". There is very little distinction, stylistically, between the two releases. "Pt II" may, perhaps, be less in the veins of a spacey U2 than its predecessor. Further than that, they are two cohesive discs belonging to one album. One thing that can be said for "LOVE" is linear distinction. Though it's a difficult journey from song to song, there is a sense of progression throughout. This is evident in the second part as well, though only when taking the first into consideration. If "LOVE" asks questions, "Pt II" gets a few answers and ends on the resolve that some pursuits are left unfinished. True as this is, the record itself undergoes something of a disjointed process. Though "Saturday Love" is an excellent opener and "We Are All That We Are" is one of the band's best, the space in between is a bit empty. After four tracks or so, the same blending effect as experienced in the first part sets in, and it isn't until two or three songs before the end that it lightens. On one hand, the conceptual flow (with quite a few lyrical and melodic nods to "LOVE") is just as easy to get lost in (whether you are engaged or overwhelmed) as in the first album. On the other hand, the conceptual flow really is just as easy to get completely lost in as in the first album. 7/10; "Saturday Love" is too catchy to miss, and "We Are All That We Are" ends on such an intense note - guitar solo and all - that I have difficulty deciding which part of "LOVE" features the better ending.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, I think the "LOVE" project has been a bit underrated. Ingenious lyricism is expected for reasons I can't quite grasp. It's about love, guys. It isn't unfair, I should think, to say that such a collection would aim for a simpler understanding of a very broad (and broadly explored) concept. Exploration of life and love provokes other discussions, and so forth. Taking cues from this inevitable chain of ideas, it is only logical to keep as close as possible to the central concept. Complaints have been made about illiberal lyricism, but it is admittedly straining to imagine a more complex incarnation of "LOVE". Another advantage of DeLonge's uncomplicated writing is the ability throughout both parts of "LOVE" to follow an emotional trend and progression. Without any sort of convolution with story, "LOVE" has more than a few moments left to breathe. In listening to music, information is rapidly absorbed - as fluid as the album is, adding extra layers would serve only to confuse. "Pt I" especially has little emotional fat to trim. Why allow a followup to break the trend? Romance is one of the core elements of the two parts, which many find hard to digest. Fluff is quite a harbinger of indigestion. Fret not, friends. Hidden under the single-syllabic rhyming technique is a very approachable emotional story. Few seemed deterred when DeLonge used a similar style in his pre-"Neighborhoods" Blink days. Perhaps this was due to a familiarity with - or, as it were, listeners having "gotten used to" - his writing. A change as vast as Angels and Airwaves is to old-school fans of Blink-182 can certainly be jarring. One of the definite barriers between "LOVE" and recognition is that simple fact. The "LOVE" project succeeds overall because it knew what it wanted to achieve. It also succeeds in reconciling Tom DeLonge's melodrama with a grounded style in two albums that are much easier to get a hold of than the first couple. I doubt AVA will ever achieve what Blink did - few bands will. What they have provided is a pair of exploratory records that tread territory few address without getting a big head about it.
Overall Impression — 6
"LOVE" did not need a second part. It worked considerably well on its own and was a definite boost in credibility for the band. The second part adds another ideological layer and presents some of AVA's better tracks - especially with its opening, closing, and other bookend pieces - but with the effort itself being unnecessary, it would take a superb collection of truly innovative music to outdo or even add to "LOVE". "Pt II" is fun, to be certain, and I have a hard time condemning it with such spectacular additions to the AVA collection ("We Are All That We Are" being at the pinnacle). The "LOVE" project - two albums and a film - was a decent ride, but I wonder if it was slightly prolonged.