Friday, March 17, 2017

REVIEW: ANGELS AND AIRWAVES' "WE DON'T NEED TO WHISPER"

We Don’t Need To Whisper is the debut album from Angels and Airwarves. Dubbed a “supergroup” by frontman Tom DeLonge, Angels and Airwaves launched in 2006 with their freshman music endeavor. Before the album’s release, DeLonge referred to the album as “the best music in generations” – but does Whisper hold up among the greats?

The content:

We Don’t Need To Whisper is all about aspirations. Aspirations of a new band, aspirations to be the biggest and deepest, and aspirations buried within the album’s ten tracks for life, love, and meaning.

From the very beginning, Whisper makes clear its galactic mood, with the opening track, “Valkyrie Missile”, opening with synthesizers and a back-and-forth spoken word intro. While there’s a certain ego embedded within the song (“Who do you think we are? We’re Angels and Airwaves” is a ballsy lyric to include on a debut album), Whisper overall does a good job of laying down a distinct sonic environment while maintaining the groovy guitar licks that DeLonge perfected in blink-182.

That said, Whisper still feels lost in the inflated infinity that it tries to create with its spacey vibe. The album often struggles to find an instrumental niche – it all feels muddled and uninspired when it gives way to synthesizers and electronic beats. Though there are some more punk-centered influences – tracks like “Distraction” have a Box Car Racer vibe, particularly in the lyrics – there’s no real “hook” in the music that made any particular track a highlight, save for “Valkyrie Missile” and “The War”.

The music itself isn’t bad. It doesn’t even feel uninspired – Angels and Airwaves, in their debut, has a noted U2 influence. It all just seems rather flat and misguided. While some may find enjoyment in the multi-dimensional sound that Whisper provides, for others it may be a frustrating influence.

The impact:

Despite DeLonge’s bombastic, painkiller-induced claims that We Don’t Need To Whisper was the best music in generations, it was met upon its release with mixed reviews.

While many outlets, such as Alternative Press, saw the band’s atmospheric sound as stadium-worthy, others, like Rolling Stone, found the sound excessive and pretentious.

Nevertheless, Whisper went on to reach #4 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and has since sold over 800,000 copies.

Perhaps more importantly, however, is Whisper’s foundation as DeLonge’s step away from blink-182, the massive pop-punk band which went on hiatus in 2005, one year before Whisper’s release.

"I do not want to be in a bullshit pop band with some bullshit pop songs while you drive your fucking bullshit car and sing along to it like you're some 14-year old girl,” DeLonge said in a concert in 2006.

While blink-182 bassist Mark Hoppus started a new pop-punk band, +44, in the wake of blink-182’s hiatus, DeLonge was adamant to be taken seriously as a musician as opposed to writing songs about fucking dogs (yes, blink-182 actually has a song called “Fuck a Dog”). While DeLonge first explored his more mature songwriting chops with 2002’s Box Car Racer, he continued further down that direction after blink-182’s hiatus was made official.

"I always thought blink-182 was my life,” DeLonge said in an interview with Kerrang! Magazine, “but I’ve realized that it wasn't, it was just the first stepping stone."

The future:

Angels and Airwaves’ most recent album, The Dream Walker, released in 2014 alongside a short film entitled Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker. In April 2016, an EP entitled Chasing Shadows in conjunction with a novel of the same name.

In February 2017, DeLonge announced his role as a director Strange Times, a film set to feature new music from Angels and Airwaves.

DeLonge has also spent time following his 2015 departure from blink-182 studying UFOs – most recently, he was named UFO Researcher of the Year by Open Minds TV after a WikiLeaks leak revealed his involvement with John Podesta.

“I kind of use some of my notoriety to do something pretty ambitious and it worked,” DeLonge said in his acceptance video for the award.


Next week’s review: Green Day’s “Dookie”

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