Angels & Airwaves (“AVA”) first blipped on my radar as they featured in the soundtrack for Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker. This short animated film has recently picked up a “Best Animation” award at the Toronto Film Festival, deservedly so judging from the trailer. AVA’s album, The Dream Walker, is out on December 9th and is a great collection of easy-listening, catchy rock tunes. It will coincide with the film being made available online – as far as I can gather, for free. Colour me excited!
Delving into the album with little background knowledge, something kept nagging at the back of my mind. It wasn’t the style of the music so much as the vocals. Then it clicked – the project is fronted by Tom DeLonge, he of Blink-182 fame. Subject-matter-wise, this is about as far from Blink-182 as you could get (it’s somewhat less scatalogical and there’s no swearing!), but once those pieces dropped in place there were so many obvious similarities. AVA is at once new, original and yet comfortably familiar. Track 3 (“The Wolfpack”) is the one that really had me thinking of his more well known act. It’s typical of one of their more angsty, emotional songs but with something else wrapped around it.
That wrapping is courtesy of Ilan Rubin (NiN amongst others), David Kennedy (Box Car Racer, etc.) and Eddie Breckenridge (Thrice). While I appreciate that fans of AVA will be slapping their foreheads and saying “How can he not have known this? They’ve had four albums out!” I can only say that it’s a shame I’m late to this alternative rock party – and I’ll be catching up, believe me.
All ten tracks do have a kind of “sound track” feel to them on the whole. They just suit the idea of having a video playing behind them, choreographed to the music, and the animated style of the film that they accompany is perfect visually. An ethereal quality is leant to many by Rubin’s keys and there are few scorching guitar solos, instead everything’s more driving and atmospheric.
This is a superb album to put on if you want to sit and chill out, reflect, sip a whisky, snuggle with a loved one. It’s just got that lovely feel to it. Right now, I want to be sat with my wife under a blanket watching the film.
Stand-out tracks for me are “The Wolfpack” as it does remind me of those Blink tracks I like so much, and “Kiss With A Spell” for its variety and gradual build from a subdued beginning to a soaring finish.