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Angels and Airwaves - We Don't Need To Whisper

Angels & Airwaves, We Don't Need To Whisper

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

AS part of Blink-182, Tom DeLonge was best known for delivering short, sharp and hopelessly catchy bursts of pop-punk such as All The Small Things and What’s My Age Again?.

They seem like distant days when listening to his latest incarnation, Angels and Airwaves – a supergroup that specialises in towering production values and anthemic songwriting.

Debut album We Don’t Need To Whisper is all about the big songs, taking its cue from the stadium-filler sound of bands like U2 and artists like Peter Gabriel by mixing chiming guitar riffs with electronic flourishes on an epic scale.

As such, it’s a gutsy listen – musically ambitious and powerfully delivered. It heralds an exciting new era for DeLonge and new collaborators, David Kennedy (ex-Box Car Racer guitarist), Ryan Sinn (former Distillers bassist) and Atom Willard (drum god of both Rocket From The Crypt and The Offspring).

There’s nothing lazy or half-baked here. Just an incredibly empowering listen built around big values, even bigger issues and unbridled enthusiasm.

Blink-182 fans will take comfort from the fact that DeLonge’s distinct vocal delivery remains intact, lending a welcome and familiar sound to the fantastic soundscapes that have been created. And there are even some uptempo tracks to rival the energy of Blink-182 at their best – albeit longer and more ambitious.

But for the most part, this is a self-consciously different effort – an album that showcases a growing maturity and a willingness to progress as an artist.

It kicks off with the anthem-like Valkyrie Missile, a six-minute plus opener that begins almost cinematically with the sort of electronic ambience that hints at classical music. At the minute mark, a lone spaceman voice drops to kickstart a gentle guitar riff, some more electronica and a slow-building drum beat that eventually gives way into the unapologetically hopeful song itself (with lyrics, ‘everyone, everyone has to learn to love again’). The ensuing song sweeps the listener along on a tidal wave of empowering sounds.

From such a prolific opening track, the rest of the album does not disappoint. Second track, Distraction is another slow builder constructed around some mesmerising riffs and some terrific drum work. The track itself is described as the emotional outline of war and finding solace in a lover during turmoil in one’s life. When DeLonge drops the telling lyric, ‘I’ll be your distraction’, you can’t fail to experience a tingling sensation, such is the power of its intensity, while the rest of the lyrics follow along in typically poignant fashion.

We Don’t Need To Whisper, like its name suggests, confronts some big themes in big fashion. Recent single The Adventure tips its hand to the epic guitar style of Pink Floyd and is another empowering piece of work, while Gift is an almighty tale of love that drops some passionate lyrics.

The vocal layering and guitar rush intro of It Hurts hints at early Blink-182 before expanding into another anthemic humdinger, while Good Day is the sort of positive, chiming effort that seems destined to accompany some feel-good moment in a movie.

While Do It For Me Now, which appears twice (once in live form as a bonus track to close the album) is the sort of epic ballad that Blink-182 threatened to conjure out of Miss You – only slightly meatier and more fully realised.

DeLonge says of Angels and Airwaves: “This is not a side project. This is the next half of DeLonge’s life. If you liked anything that I did in the past, this is very much the next step.”

It’s a step that’s really worth taking for with We Don’t Need To Whisper, DeLonge has really settled into an impressive stride.

Album listening party

Track listing:

  1. Valkyrie Missle
  2. Distraction
  3. Do It For Me Now
  4. Adventure
  5. Little’s Enough
  6. War
  7. Gift
  8. It Hurts
  9. Good Day
  10. Start The Machine
  11. The Machine
  12. Do It For Me Now