Release Date: Dec 9, 2014
Record label: To the Stars
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
As part of a bigger picture, does it fit in? Their fifth album sees this band becoming a tiny part of something huge (see below), but musically, ‘The Dream Walker’ largely represents the Angels & Airwaves we know and love. Opener ‘Teenagers And Rituals’ rolls along with a dreamy, slick air that’s typical of the world this album was penned to soundtrack, while soaring lead single ‘Paralyzed’ is one of the best songs they – maybe even Tom DeLonge – has ever written. Although parts of the album’s lower key, electronica-laced back end get a little overawed by the grandeur of the project they accompany, for the most part this is Angels & Airwaves at their most ballsy and creative.
Tom DeLonge brought the ongoing Love project to a close in 2013, opening the door for his next complex multimedia project, The Dream Walker. Accompanied by comics and films, among other things, The Dream Walker is by every recognizable measure an Angels & Airwaves record, containing the same level of DeLonge ambition paired with an enduring love of synthesized '80s college rock. Texturally, there's not much of a surprise but The Dream Walker does have its own distinct momentum, opening up in a dark place before progressively moving itself into the light, ending on a bittersweet acoustic coda.
As a band Angels & Airwaves have always faced an uphill struggle. Forever destined to life in the shadow of Blink 182 - and, in the eyes of many, the catalyst for their childhood-ruining break-up – their ambitious space-rock has found itself the butt of the rock world’s joke for nearly a decade. It’s not always been a fair critique – DeLonge and co.
On a certain level, listeners know what to expect from an Angels & Airwaves LP: U2-indebted guitar chime, glittering keyboards and Tom DeLonge’s yearning vocals, all delivered with the 360-degree panoramic panache of an iMax movie. However, the Nine Inch Nail-signifiers and electro pop jolts of 2013's Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal have clearly bled onto the band's latest LP, The Dream Walker. Futuristic new wave synths, 8-bit chirping and atmospheric electronic work augment the record's guitar-based music—highlighted by Cure-esque bass lines and spidery, gothic keyboard lines (“Kiss With A Spell," "The Disease"), as well as a crisp dance-punk attack ("Bullets In The Wind”).
This is a change of pace for Angels & Airwaves, who are fronted by Blink-182 singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge. Co-writing and co-producing with drummer Ilan Rubin (formerly of Nine Inch Nails), he fashions a bizarre, apocalyptic story of Poet Anderson, who has a personal “Dream Walker” to protect him from a “world of ruin,” as “The Wolfpack” suggests. Rubin pushes the music closer to a densely processed, hard-edged Nine Inch Nails feel; it doesn’t reach that stratosphere, but NIN fans should enjoy it.