Angels and Airwaves, ‘The Dream Walker’ – Album Review
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, pop punk mastermind and Blink-182 head honcho Tom DeLonge is back with 'The Dream Walker,' the latest effort from his Angels and Airwaves project. Its 10 tracks punch just as hard as any other piece of material from DeLonge, leaving you electrified and ready for a repeat listen. After the band's first couple of albums written about love, the new album's darker themes of angst gives fans something brand-new, keeping you engaged and entertained from start to finish.
If the single 'The Wolfpack' didn't pump you up enough, the rest of this record will for sure. The only downside we can see is that it's so overly electronic and experimental that at times it seems a bit forgettable.
You're guaranteed to rock this album initially -- but it may drop off of your listening circuit, until you rediscover it all over again. It's an unconventional realization considering DeLonge is the co-creator of some of the most timeless pop punk hits to date. But, inherently, that was the point. He sees this album as more of an art project and not a new buzzworthy music album. That's why the release is complemented by the short 14-minute animated film, 'Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker.'
The first song, 'Teenagers and Rituals,' is a great opener, leading in with a rumbling, building piano, synth and drum track. It launches shortly thereafter into a very catchy chorus with some experimental, off-kilter verses that have a ton of different musical elements going on all at once. DeLonge's muffled vocals have a way of making you smile -- if you're a fan of this sort of thing.
The second track and lead single, 'Paralyzed,' has one of the catchiest riffs on the album, which hits with extreme force right out of the gate. But it's not uncommon for DeLonge to go big from the start and keep pace throughout, which he accomplishes here. Without a doubt, this is a singalong song.
The third tune, and another one of the album's singles, 'The Wolfpack' speaks for itself. It's well-written with a ballad-quality chorus that will just blow you away and electronic turns that make you want to dance in your seat. The LCD Soundsystem-inspired track was heavily influenced by drummer Ilan Rubin's musical style and tastes.
The slower fourth song, 'Tunnels,' tells of the death of the singer-songwriter's father. It seems to be the one track that lands closest to home for DeLonge, triggering emotion that comes forth so clear and beautifully on the track.
'Kiss With a Spell' is also another mellowed-out, sort of trancy track that focuses on the lead vocals. In fact, most of the songs really bring the vocals forward in a powerful way. The sixth track, 'Mercenaries,' starts off slow but builds before exploding, kicking ass with an angst and passion that we're not used to from these guys, making it one of the LP's top tracks.
'Bullets In the Wind' picks up the pace again, with some very Interpol-esque instrumentation and some very precise drumming from Rubin. It's a lot sharper than most of the other songs on 'The Dream Walker.'
'The Disease' and 'Tremors' both start out soft and are generally uneventful, but both play with the dark themes of the album -- and are great ways for the album to begin its final descent.
The final acoustic, emo track, 'Anomaly,' is one of the lightest songs on the album, and lyrically it sounds a bit confused. On one end of the chorus DeLonge sings, "I never wanted to live my life without you," and on the other he sings, "I never wanted to say I loved you." It's not quite the same, but it has similarities to Blink-182's 'Boxing Day' from their 2012 EP, 'Dogs Eating Dogs.'
Basically, Angels and Airwaves attacked and delivered on this album, especially with a few tracks that really stood out, most notably 'The Wolfpack' and 'Paralyzed' -- but will it make album of the year? We doubt it. It's a bit too experimental for a band that still seems to be trying to stay within their catchy pop punk spectrum ... but don't let us tell you what to think. Pick up the album, which is currently out now via To the Stars Records, and take it for a spin.