It's been four years since the first Angels & Airwaves album came out; in that time, the buzz around the band has gone from a fever pitch down to a dull roar, once fans realized that frontman Tom DeLonge's promises of the band essentially being bigger than Jesus were a tad bit overblown. Don't get us wrong: We Don't Need To Whisper is one hell of a solid rock record, worthy of much of the advance hype it was given. But its follow-up. 2007's I-Empire, was a half-baked rehash of Whisper's shimmering guitars, stomping drums and anthemic lyrics. In short, it seemed like DeLonge was already out of ideas.
Love, AVA's third album, is a bit of a recovery from I-Empire's doldrums, most likely in part due to Blink-182's reunion last year and subsequent efforts to work on a new album (competition breeds excellence, and songwriting is no different). The standard AVA earmarks–shimmering guitars, stomping drums, anthemic lyrics–are still here but the bombast has been reeled in a little bit, with a more organic recorded sound. “The Flight Of Apollo” delivers a thick guitar riff and propulsive snare hits; “Young London” features DeLonge's quickest guitar line since Blink's “M+M's”; and first single “Hallucinations,” while having some supremely cheesy laser-woosh effects, contains the disc's best, most dynamic chorus.
The downfalls, though, are the same as every AVA album: Nearly every song is muddied up with thick, syrupy arrangements and extended instrumental intros/outros that attempt to set the mood but serve no real purpose. We also can't overlook how the vocal melody in the verses of “Some Origins Of Fire” is pretty much ripped directly from AVA's biggest song, “The Adventure.” With fans as fervent as they get, it's strange that DeLonge would think he could get away with something that obvious and not get called on it.
Of course, it's hard to fault him too much, seeing as how he's made the self-released Love available for free download on AVA's website, showing his business acumen as much as his artistic merit. It's admirable that DeLonge still views AVA as his world-changing rock outfit, but it's safe to say we'd all benefit if he took a more realistic view to his art and just tried to write killer rock songs like we all know he can.