I bought We Don't Need To Whisper last year having only heard The Adventure. At first listen, it was disappointing.
Although the songs were well structured, and had cinematic intros, a lot of them sounded the same, and some songs went on far too long in the outros, that I would just turn them off after the bridge.
The album is very downbeat and relaxed compared to DeLonge's previous material. The melodies in a lot of the verses of those songs were boring and tuneless, although most of the the choruses were big and powerful.
After I while, I gave that album another chance and it has become a favourite of mine... the album as a whole flows like a story and the soundscapes and lyrics are beautiful.
Listening to I-Empire, from the very outset it is clear the band have given the music a kick up the backside.
Call To Arms carries on with the long introductions of the first record, but here teh intro is less synth and harder with military style drumming, and when the verse kicks in, DeLonge's machine gun melody takes you on a euphoric rollercoaster ride until this song builds to a scintillating climax, the band finally achieve (what they had always threatened but failed to do in the past) - hit you with a chorus so damn big it will lift you off the ground.
Everything's Magic, Sirens and Rite Of Spring see DeLonge return to his pop-punk past, these songs are stripped down, have catchy, well-rounded melodies that DeLonge sings with ease. New addition Matt Wachter adds some quality bass-playing to the whole thing, most evident on these songs, and much missing from the first record.
Lifeline and Breathe are well crafted ballads, if not brilliant rip-offs of U2's With Or Without You and Springsteen's The Rising. Even on these stripped down tunes, the big production is apparent and welcome, as the band carv out a patented pop/rock/alternative/space punk sound in the current climate of indistinguishable whiny indie bands.
Secret Crowds is the best song on the album - a huge tune with a monster singalong chorus - "Let me feel you, carry you higher, Watch our words spread hope like fire."
This song stands out for its harder sound where David Kennedy is let loose with a Box Car Racer type riff, and drummer Atom Willard shows some remarkable percussion, unheard on the first record.
Secret Crowds deserves its place in big stadiums alongside the electronic U2-esque anthems Love Like Rockets where DeLonge asks "Do you feel alive?", True Love and Heaven. Theses songs are the best examples of the truly uplifting theme of the album.
What is noticeable from the album booklet is the these songs were written by "Angels & Airwaves."
Angels & Airwaves will always draw mixed reactions. Some people shudder at the thought of stadium rock, and some people see poppy, everydude choruses as contrived.
DeLonge is playing to his strengths on this album. His strengths have always been simple lyrics and catchy as hell hooks.
Where he tried to out-write, out-sing and out-play himself on We Don't Need To Whisper, he returns with the same sound, only less complicated, more honest, and with a band that are as tight as his emo trousers.
These guys look like a band now, they might be a crazy band, a cheesy "All you need is love" band, a band who've watched too much Star Wars... but there's no one else like them. More power to them!