For Fans Of
The most dangerous assumption about a band formed by reputable members of the music industry – a supergroup – is that the whole will be greater than the sum of its individual parts. It’s a pre-conceived notion that has been weighing down on Angels & Airwaves since their inception, measuring them against the past music each member has been involved in and not the solidity of what Angels & Airwaves have actually put out. Despite the bog of expectation, here’s the good news: they live up to the belief that uniting a group of sensational artists is conducive to the production of something bigger than anything that they’ve ever done before.
Every aspect of this album plays into its overarching concept: the journey of the pioneer in the ‘Dream Walker’ narrative, ‘Poet Anderson.’ However, the way in which Angels & Airwaves have woven together the concept record means that tracking its storyline doesn’t detract from the quality of the actual music, and that it doesn’t fall into the trap of becoming cheesy. Rather than being abstract, each track remains relatable. Notably, ‘Tunnels’ is the most sentimental and jarring song on the album, with instrumentals and vocals fluctuating naturally and appropriately to make the mediation on life, death and dreams effectively haunting. By extension, ‘Mercenaries’ draws empathy with the somewhat abashed repeat, ‘you didn’t need to count me out.’
The purposeful emotions that ‘The Dream Walker’ portrays also involve a visceral aggression. ‘Teenagers And Rituals’ has a deft piano introduction and a bed of electronic sounds that find themselves somewhere between synth and static, and is textured with apt percussion. It is, however, the angsty and purposeful tone of DeLonge’s voice that is particularly potent. ‘Paralyzed’ is the same but packs its punch harder in its instrumentals. Most edgy is ‘The Wolfpack’, which is confrontational and layered, like the majority of songs on the record, with a meaning that runs deeper than the surface impression you get from its lyrics.
‘The Wolfpack’ is, in addition, cinematic, which is another admirable trait of ‘The Dream Walker’: its ability to encompass the filmic atmosphere that its narrative demands. ‘Kiss With a Spell’ and ‘The Disease’ both reflect this tone in the way that they’re produced.
And finally, where Angels & Airwaves may have fallen in the past, this album is as dynamic as it could have possibly gotten. ‘Tremors’ is a song that you can tap your foot to, but has lyrics that break the almost-pop-song veneer it shines with, primarily due to its repetition of ‘come on.’ The closer, ‘Anomaly’, is true to its title – it’s a percussive, acoustic track, endearing but also bittersweet.
If you’re not enthused to listen to this record, try spinning ‘Bullets In the Wind.’ It’s the album’s standout track, and if its inclusive, anthemic and fiery refrain isn’t going to stir you, we don’t know what will.
‘The Dream Walker’ is only the start of a much larger project relating to its central narrative, but it’s the satisfying tour de force that Angels & Airwaves fans have been anticipating. If Angels & Airwaves once fell off your radar, prepare for them to re-invade it with this unexpected, very welcome gem.
1. Teenagers And Rituals
3. The Wolfpack
5. Kiss With A Spell
7. Bullets In The Wind
8. The Disease