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Music Review: Angels & Airwaves – LOVE, Parts I & II

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Angels and Airwaves’ third album, LOVE, was released on Valentine’s Day of 2010 through the band’s official site. The album was supposed to be released simultaneously with the band’s movie, LOVE, but the film release was delayed.

Over a year later, on November 8, 2011, the film and the band’s fourth record, LOVE, Part II, were released in stores. You can purchase both albums together, or you can (as I did) buy the Deluxe Edition that has both albums along with the film.

In this review, I will talk about the music, saving the film for a later article.

I’m very excited to finally have a physical copy of LOVE, Parts I & II—especially because I now have the lyrics sheet. Reading Tom DeLonge’s actual words has helped me to understand songs like “Letters to God, Part II,” which confused me in the past—as I mentioned in my article on the first album. (Note that I wrote that article while the first album was still available for free download on the band’s website. It is no longer free.)

Since I already reviewed the first album, I’ll focus on the music of LOVE, Part II in this article. Then I’ll discuss the themes that unite both albums.

THE MUSIC OF LOVE, PART II

“Saturday Love” is a great opening to the record—it’s classic Angels and Airwaves (AVA). The intro builds to a burst of energy, filled with AVA’s stylistic chorus and delay. If the opening guitar part sounds familiar, that’s because it’s almost identical to the opening from “Heaven.” I’m not sure why AVA made this opening so similar.

The tune is about dreams, identity, and pain–sharing life and love with another person. The lyrics are brilliant and beautiful, and I recommend sitting down and reading them. DeLonge gave us a gem with “Saturday Love.” The dream references remind me of “Call to Arms” and “Hallucinations.”

”Surrender,” a catchy tune with a good beat, is about fighting through adversity. Don’t surrender. Even when you hit the wall, you can survive.

The upbeat music underlies darker lyrics about God being asleep while bombs fall all around us.

”Anxiety” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It was a good choice for single. Aside from an f-bomb in the first verse, I like the lyrics—especially how DeLonge personifies Anxiety.

“Don’t pressure us, anxiety.”

”My Heroine (It’s Not Over)” starts out as a piano-driven love song. The lyrics reference “memory,” a theme from the LOVE film. Memories, of love and human connection, are an important part of who we are.

I really like how “My Heroine” picks up the pace halfway through the track, with the guitar and drums overtaking the piano. I think that DeLonge tried to hit a note that too high for him (on the word “grin”), but overall the song is great.

”Moon As My Witness” is about blissful love in a troubled world. The song’s relaxed flow reminds me of “Breathe.”

The track ends with an instrumental transition, reminiscent of “Young London” and “Shove” from LOVE, Part I. I didn’t care for those transitions the first time around, claiming that it made it hard to listen to each song individually. However, the transitions have rubbed off on me. (What’s life if you can’t change your mind a bit?)

“Dry Your Eyes” is the first song on the album that I didn’t care for. I rank it with “It Hurts” as one of AVA’s worst songs. It had a promising intro, but the dissonant chords in the first verse threw me off. This song has two swear words.

“Dry Your Eyes” is the counterpart to “Moon As My Witness.” In this song, here is no bliss and love fell apart.

”The Revelator” builds on the religious theme that started in the previous album with “Letters to God, Part II.” This track is about dying faith and the coming judgment. Life is hard, but you probably shouldn’t worry about Judgment Day, because it’s not coming, and there’s no hell.

If cold humor, disillusionment, and irony were sounds, they would sound like “The Revelator.”

In ”One Last Thing”, prominent drums and upbeat guitars provide a background for DeLonge’s lyrics and quotes from the LOVE film.

The song mourns the tragedy of the human condition, but turns away from the cynicism of the last two tracks by saying that there’s something to believe in. Hope remains. We long for meaning and something bigger than ourselves.

”Inertia” starts out softly, with DeLonge’s distant vocals growing louder and louder. The steady build is rudely interrupted by drums and a grungy guitar. At the end of the first chorus, the word “buried” is smothered by the distortion guitar (a timely touch).

The meaning of the song is illuminated by a key quote (from the film) about humanity’s capacity for self-destruction. “Inertia,” which has an ominous mood throughout, ends with more quotes from the movie—and from “Shove.” The quotes focus on love and the legacy that we can leave behind for others.

”Behold a Pale Horse” is perhaps the most religious, and Christian, song that Angels and Airwaves has done to date—but it’s not Christian in the way you might expect.

The song is about the book of Revelation. Specifically, God destroying the world in the final judgment. DeLonge reflects on how it’s “such a strange celebration” as fire “eats up the world” and “several billions die.”

“Behold a Pale Horse” marks the second time in two months that Tom has released a song with direct Biblical allusions. “Snake Charmer” talks about Adam and Eve from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. And “Behold a Pale Horse” is full of apocalyptic imagery from Revelation, the last book of the Bible.

The music is energetic, reflecting dismay and disillusionment at the end of the world.

”All That We Are” continues the theme of despair. The first half of the song tells the story of a mother who abandons hope and her child, resigning herself to suicide.

The haunting, repetitive words, “We are all that we are,” usher in the second half of the song: one of the most evocative and beautiful instrumentals that Angels and Airwaves have put together.

It’s unclear whether the album ends with any hope.

Perhaps the hope lies in the music, as the soulful guitar elevates our thoughts and emotions to outer space, a vast expanse with infinite possibility.

THEMES

1) Love
“Young London,” “Shove,” “Clever Love,” “Some Origins of Fire,” “Saturday Love,” “My Heroine (It’s Not Over),” “Moon as My Witness,” “Dry Your Eyes,” and “The Revelator” all deal with romantic love in some way: infatuation, falling in love, staying together forever, breaking apart, pain, and the timeless nature of love.

“Origins of Fire” tackles all of human interaction—not just romantic love. The relationships we share with our friends, family, and neighbors can be difficult, but they’re all important because we’re social creatures.

2) God
LOVE, Parts I & II are, by far, the most religious of AVA’s albums. God is referenced in “The Flight of Apollo,” “Letters to God, Part II,” “Surrender,” and “Behold a Pale Horse.”

The underlying theme in most of these songs is that life is hard, and we need God, but God is absent. He has left us to our own devices.

In “Behold a Pale Horse,” God is present, but He’s destroying the world.

In “Letters to God, Part II,” DeLonge is trying to contact God through letters, knocking on His door and asking to be let in. This is a Biblical allusion: Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7)

God does not answer. In the end, DeLonge is still lost, discovering that it’s all just a lie.

In We Don’t Need to Whisper, the song “A Little’s Enough” is about God coming to earth to wipe away our tears and make things right. The religious perspective of LOVE, Parts I &II is doubt and cynicism. Does God exist? If He does, is He good?

3) Hope
From the darkness of space to the violence on Earth, life is hard. LOVE, Parts I & II provide a variety of responses to the human condition.

One response is “Epic Holiday”:

“Let’s start a riot
Nobody’s right, nobody’s wrong
Life’s just a game it’s just one epic holiday”

That anarchy didn’t work too well for England this past summer, when young hooligans took to the streets to vandalize cities across the nation. Their riots caused more suffering.

Other responses are the despair of “All That We Are” and the cynicism of “Dry Your Eyes.”

Conversely, “Surrender” and “One Last Thing” tell us to fight on

Don’t surrender. You can’t stop fighting, even when you hit the wall. What you do in your life can touch someone else’s life. We have each other, and we’re not perfect. But there’s hope.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think that the “The Flight of Apollo” accurately sums up the heart-cry of these albums:

“Finally I get this feeling we’re all alone in one big world
Just to realize what all these shapes and colors are
So it doesn’t hurt so badly . . .
Please don’t look at life
Look at me so sadly
Life shouldn’t hurt, doesn’t hurt so badly”

The LOVE double album is full of brilliant music from the alternative/space rock genre. However, the records do have some offensive material: profanity and edgy religious commentary.

LOVE Parts I & II are worth a listen if you’re an Angels and Airwaves fan—or just someone who enjoys pondering life’s questions. Don’t expect to find many answers, but you may find some love as Angels and Airwaves takes us to the stars.

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About SteventheThorn

  • Scott Taylor

    One of the best reviews for Love around, the only review that I’ve read in which the writer actually explores the music’s themes. Good job!