Vinyl Special – LOVE, Parts One and Two, by Angels & Airwaves

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Part One released February 14, 2010 / Part Two released November 1, 2011

Vinyl reissue released October 28, 2014

Part One 53 min, 59 sec / Part Two 48 min, 44 sec

Following the release of I-Empire, Angels & Airwaves began a transformation, expanding their boundaries beyond the realm of music. A film was announced; initially titled I-Empire and intended to tie into that album, the film instead became connected to what would become AVA’s next studio album, and adopted that title, LOVE.

The band was dormant for a long time prior to LOVE‘s initial release. Originally appearing to be a single album, announced for release in November, the album was pushed back to Christmas 2009, continuing the band’s unfortunate pattern of frequently delaying studio albums. As Christmas rolled around, another delay was announced, this time pushing the album back to, appropriately, February 14. The single “Hallucinations” was released as a consolation prize on Christmas day, for free. Finally, when Valentine’s Day rolled around, LOVE was released into the wild, as a completely free download (cited as being due to “corporate underwriting” that funded the album). With its release, Angels & Airwaves finally entered the next stage of its existence, marching towards a multimedia identity.

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A release date for LOVE, the film, was not announced, but it was expected shortly after the album it ostensibly tied into. However, films, of course, take much longer to make and edit, and LOVE took well over a year to be prepared for a commercial release. As it appeared to be close to completion, a second album, reportedly composed mostly of music for the film, with several vocal tracks thrown in as well, was announced for March 2011. Like before, March 2011 came and went with no new music, and a new release date of November 2011 was announced. This time, LOVE, the film, was complete, receiving a screening as part of a special event in August 2011, and LOVE: Part Two (packaged separately and as a variety of combo packs with LOVE, the album, and LOVE, the film) finally saw its release on November 1, 2011.

We’ll talk about LOVE, the film, another time, because I need a lot of prep time for that clusterfuck of a movie. Here, we’ll instead focus on the albums.

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LOVE, parts one and two, work very well as a double album. AVA took the space-rock themes that dominated their previous two albums to a new level with these two albums, with DeLonge singing of voyages, faith, the blossoming of young love, and survival. Love has always been a central theme of DeLonge’s AVA-era lyrics – the act, the feeling of falling in love, every aspect of it. He’s backed up all throughout by musical collaborators David Kennedy, Matt Wachter, and Atom Willard, who, as always, provide the perfect musical backdrop for his lyrics, with hard punk vibes combined with electronic flourishes. Choruses have always been a strong point for the band, and DeLonge pumps out a variety of infectious, anthemic refrains across both albums.

It’s easy to declare the entire LOVE project to be Angels & Airwaves’s magnum opus. Two albums and a feature-length film, all done within the span of about four years by a fully independent band is nothing to scoff at. But both albums are guilty of filler to pad their run times. LOVE features lengthy interludes before and after nearly every song, and by the end of the album, they’ve become incredibly tedious, often nothing more than a single electronic hook and some echo-y percussion. Part Two is more consistent with full-length songs but also comes across as a bit more boring, and one track in particular – “Dry Your Eyes” – features the exact same melodic progression as I-Empire hit single “Everything’s Magic,” which comes across as outright lazy. Combined, LOVE parts one and two are a solid musical experience. As separate albums, they leave the listener wanting more.

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LOVE Part Two brought along with it the first commercial release of any Angels & Airwaves albums on vinyl, packaging the two albums separately, with their own sleeves and liner notes, inside a gigantic o-card to bind the albums together. What I have here is the 2014 reissue of that album, packaged the same as before, but now with photos of Ilan Rubin as part of the band (something that didn’t happen until shortly before the album’s release), and – the primary selling point of these reissues – pink vinyl, pressed to benefit breast cancer awareness and research.

The vinyl format fits Part Two fine, but LOVE suffers from the album’s side splits, mostly due to how it was mixed in its original format – as one continuous piece of music. The side splits abruptly cut off the transitions as the interludes end, and the effect is pretty jarring as a result. Another strike against those dumb interludes, I suppose.

I also felt that the records themselves weren’t done as well as previous SRC albums that I’ve owned. My record player isn’t very high quality in regards to sound fidelity, but LOVE and Part Two both sound pretty grainy on my system. It’s a shame, because there’s a lot of musical nuances in both albums that get kind of lost when I play the vinyl copies. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just my system.

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Both LOVE and LOVE Part Two represented a huge step forward for Angels & Airwaves. Despite the balancing act for DeLonge that began in 2009 with the revival of blink-182, both bands have seen career renaissances in recent years, putting out their best work as units. The LOVE project, regardless of commercial success, is a triumph of multimedia storytelling, and kickstarted a new wave of creativity for AVA and DeLonge that has continued to this day.

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