It’s been seven years since Angels & Airwaves’ last full helping of charismatic electronic space rock in the form of ‘The Dream Walker’, and five years since their 4 track EP ‘Chasing Shadows’. With a scattering of acoustic releases and remixes through this time, we’ve been kept firmly on our toes, but in 2021, it’s hard to know what to expect or even hope for. So what is there to not only maintain the attention of their already seismic fanbase, but grow and develop it to a wider mainstream appeal?
A fair bit, in all honesty. ‘Lifeforms’ follows the recipe book of their already successful back catalogue which serves the band well on their 6th full album outing. Melodic electronics laced beneath the classic Tom DeLonge vocal line aren’t exactly an unexpected feature of the record, but still a charming combination.
More than this are the diversifications and small detours throughout the record. ‘No More Guns’ features a ‘My Generation’ akin intro (not the Limp Bizkit kind but The Who) before advancing into an almost boisterous, ruckus piece that will be sure to enchant crowds into a big singalong in the live arena. Elsewhere, ‘Automatic’ boasts a post punk introduction that is easily likened to The Cure and The Smiths, while the lyrical undertaking maintains that expansive space rock tinge that this band have cemented throughout their career.
Structure is an issue for this record, as previous outings have always felt like the narrative was the key driving force. Outside of the music, the universe that this band has fabricated in previous releases has always featured heavily in what the band has put out. Sometimes this record feels like a selection of tracks put together, which on their own all have their own individual quality and could easily make their setlist for years to come, but with no overarching story to pin it all together. It asks a lot of a band to do this and Angels & Airwaves have consistently added details to their presence outside of music that has made them a force that you almost want to research to unearth every slight nuance and detail.
This album features a great collection of high quality tracks that will give fans plenty to get stuck into. But it is just that – a collection – and what this does for the band going forward is hard to say. It is hard to see this record grabbing the attention outside of their immediate fanbase and elevate their presence on the global stage. However, take nothing away from DeLonge’s enchanting lyrical and vocal presence; the songwriting capability of this band are a force to be reckoned with and will be for many years to come. This is an album for the fans and overall a terrific outing. Fantastic production, well crafted and seamless songwriting, but just lacking that bigger picture that their previous albums have been famous for.