Angels & Airwaves roared into mid-2021 to release their biggest album to date, LIFEFORMS, and the start of their epic LIFEFORMS tour. Featuring ten tracks, Angels & Airwaves’ latest album boosts anthems of inner-peace, carefree attitudes, and unconditional love, whether that’s to yourself or another. LIFEFORMS has been a project two years in the making as the Tom DeLonge fronted space-punk band released their radio-friendly single, “Rebel Girl” back in 2019.
But, does LIFEFORMS have what it takes to tango with the band’s other heavy-hitting albums, We Don’t Need To Whisper and The Dream Walker? Or, should the guys of Angels & Airwaves take their space condoms and head back to the drawing board to start from step one again? Let’s find out.
“Don’t lead me on,” I sing along as “Timebomb” takes listeners on a first-class seat into the collective minds of Tom DeLonge and Ilan Rubin. Creating the perfect middle ground between typical Angels & Airwaves soundscapes and DeLonge’s pop-punk expertise for fast-paced, heart-pounding ballads makes for a perfect moment that will have listeners dancing all over the second “Hey there, little sad girl/I really wanna hold you” enters their ears.
“Timebomb” is an instant classic in regards to the growing catalog of big theme anthems that Angels & Airwaves tends to bring to the table from time to time. Joining A-class opening tracks like “Start The Machine,” “Timebomb” is a clear example of what to expect when jumping into LIFEFORMS for the first time as its carefree playground opens up endless possibilities for listeners to escape from within the safety of their minds.
Lyrically, “Timebomb” presents listeners with the traditional Tom DeLonge array of wording and weird connections while also being a better-written track within the album. Everything from the track’s catchy chorus to the mind grasping verses presents a unique stance in the world of Angels & Airwaves as listeners will be singing along almost instantly. “Washing ashore with no life in the raft” is an example of a lyric that keeps to what fans expect from a Tom DeLonge written line while also having deep meaning and a bigger purpose in the grand scheme of the song itself.
“Timebomb” is a fantastic opening track, and I suspect I’ll have this one on replay tons when I have a day where all I want to do is sing along to Angels & Airwaves albums, which happens at least a few times a month. Also, the track slaps in a live setting, and I can’t wait to sing along with fellow fans again in November.
Following the almost unique and fast-paced heartbeats of “Timebomb” is no easy task, but “Euphoria” erupts the growing fire that “Timebomb” started. Striking listeners with a pre-chorus that will land direct hits on the heart as Tom sings aloud, “Oh, you’re such a fool, this modern love/Oh, it’s like the wind has killed the dove.” Yet another example of Tom DeLonge’s traditional style of writing taken to new heights.
Keeping the track’s energy subtle and more of a tease of what’s to come has to be my favorite part about jumping into a track like “Euphoria.” The best I can describe it is that feeling of being watched in the dark late at night. That’s “Euphoria” in a nutshell. An explosion of pure craziness kicks in during the track’s bottom half, as by this time listeners, including myself, will be singing along to the track’s explosive chorus, “It’s hard to live if you’re hurtin’/It’s hard to live when you’ve always been let down.”
“Euphoria” is a fantastic companion piece to the love and attention that went into “Timebomb” and continues to show a trend of experimentation within familiar formulas that has quickly grabbed my attention. This track is Angels & Airwaves showcasing their best, and listeners will be in a mind hold the second they click play for the first time.
“Spellbound” is in a class all its own, as listeners are invited within a dark place filled with betrayal, soulless love, and an atmosphere ripe for death. “Pull the pin, your cracking my head/Either way, I’m better of dead, yeah,” is just a taste of what fans are in store for as they dig deeper into the track’s lyrical meaning. A truly different approach to the generic formula that Angels & Airwaves tends to dabble in gives “Spellbound” its endless replayability, offering listeners something fresh to graze on while being captivated by DeLonge’s haunting vocal performance.
The third track to grace LIFEFORMS wasn’t always a track I thought I’d appreciate until I dove deep into the lyrics and themes present. The feeling I had when I let go of my assumptions of what made an Angels & Airwaves song a classic is when I truly gave into the depressing, hopeless, and downright heartbreaking nature of “Spellbound.”
I had flashbacks of my trends with love and came to realize just how many times my own heart had been spellbound and how those feelings of the past triggered emotional reactions to “Spellbound.” It is a phenomenal track that further displays Angels & Airwaves moving away from their typical space-punk design to become more significant than their troupes might lead on. “Something’s out there pulling at me” are the perfect lyrics to explain my experience with “Spellbound.”
No More Guns:
Tom DeLonge again shows he can still tap even further down the pop-punk well to develop a fun, controversial, and overall hands-up anthem. “No More Guns” is far from an amazing song, and when put side-by-side with the other tracks within LIFEFORMS it is a natural sore thumb. A fun sore thumb, but a sore thumb nonetheless.
Sporting such lyrics like, “It’s early in the morning/And I’m sitting at the table/Drinking shots of ancient whiskey” and “Start up the show/Get up and aim ’cause we’re ready to go,” “No More Guns” takes a turn for simplicity which rivels the trend from the three tracks that came before it. In a fun tribute to the pop-punk sound featured throughout the ’70s given life by bands such as Ramones and given new life by Green Day from time to time, Angels & Airwaves set out to produce a fun-sounding track that features a more serious anthemic quality and pulls it off in specific attributes.
Where the track falls lyrically, it makes up in its fast-paced nature, creating a fun instrumental experience that will get listeners’ blood pumping, hearts beating, and body’s moving. Not the best track on LIFEFORMS, but it’s certainly an entertaining one, and for haters of “No More Guns,” you can’t tell me the instrumentals didn’t at least take you for a fun nostalgic ride.
Losing My Mind:
Following the trends set by “Spellbound,” “Losing My Mind” takes Angels & Airwaves on an adventure into the unknown as they build upon their previous experimentation to create an explosive dancefloor-ready sideshow. “I live on the edge, I must be losing my mind/Get out of my head, it’s now the scene of a crime” will quickly find itself in the mind space of listeners as they dance in place singing at the top of their lungs.
One thing has always been clear, Tom DeLonge knows how to write a hook that will stay with his listeners for years to come, and “Losing My Mind” is no different. Putting the more extensive anthemic qualities of a traditional Angels & Airwaves song to the side as they dance about creating musical fusion like mad scientists creating a monster. “Losing My Mind” is a fun time that doesn’t take itself too seriously while also taking cues from DeLonge’s life as he includes such lyrics like, “I said we’re not alone/And the government knows it.”
A genuine self-reflection of the man that is Tom DeLonge, “Losing My Mind” has been an instant favorite of mine since its release earlier this year, and I predict many more repeats as my body can’t get enough of the body-snatching bass lines and overarching melodies that take hold. A possession experience in the center of a growing storm filled with awkward dance moves and euphoric bliss.
“You have a song, now you just wanna turn it up,” the feeling listeners will have the moment “Automatic” enters their ear canals. A fun experience that brings the carefree tension represented by “Timebomb,” “Kiss & Tell,” and “Rebel Girl” to the forefront, yet again proving Tom DeLonge can highlight his blink-182 legacy with his overarching nature featured throughout Angels & Airwaves perfectly. “Automatic” in the LIFEFORMS grand scheme of things is a top five-track, quickly moving up the ranks with each listen.
Lyrically, “Automatic” gives fans the best of both worlds, creating a fun landscape for expression as the track is bound to create endless amounts of awkwardly flaying arm dances while singing along, “She likes to dream, I can see it in her eyes/She’s on automatic.” Once again, just like with “Losing My Mind,” “Automatic” proves just how good Tom DeLonge and co. are at getting stuck in listeners’ minds.
Instrumentally, “Automatic” takes the fun, carefree attitudes of “No More Guns” but morphs with the rhythmic structure of “Rebel Girl” to keep the blood pumping, erections growing, and a fun time to be shared with friends. Fast-paced guitars, heart-pounding drum beats, and a bass line to die for all make up an outstanding masterpiece within the Angels & Airwaves universe that will live on among the fan base for years.
Smashing “Dry Your Eyes” and “Shove” together is indeed an artistic decision I didn’t expect when “Restless Souls” was first released. But, I’ve come to terms with the fact that while “Restless Souls” borrows heavily from both tracks featured throughout the Love era, it’s a superior musical experience. “Restless Souls” is “Dry Your Eyes” if you injected the track with adrenaline and drugs, creating a fast-paced adventure that lyrically and musically flow just a tab bit better than the Love entry.
A song flowing with anxiety, “Restless Souls” brings anxious minds into the spotlight as lyrics such as, “Everything and everyone/Every word is falsified/Cannot see what you’ve become” tells a story of losing oneself and attempting to find the drive to get out of a personal slump and go. Not my favorite song featured on LIFEFORMS, but I can appreciate what the band was attempting as they build more significant connections between themselves and with their fan base.
Alongside “No More Guns,” “Restless Souls” is on the weaker side of the spectrum, as throughout my listen-throughs of LIFEFORMS, “Restless Souls” was also on my mind as a track I felt like I could skip over and not miss out on much.
Even being the single that I played the least when it was first released. But, this could all be chalked up to how many times I listened to both Love albums growing up that my mind is too wired into “Dry Your Eyes,” and while “Restless Souls” is the better song, it’s all too familiar for me to keep me interested for long periods.
Fun fact, when looking back at my initial review of “Rebel Girl” back in 2019, I apparently absolutely semi-loathed this track, which certainly isn’t the case today as “Rebel Girl” is in my top three when it comes to the songs featured on LIFEFORMS. Also, my writing just two years ago was pretty yikes… “Rebel Girl” is the exciting first single released by Angels & Airwaves back in 2019 and features blazing guitars, soft-spoken bass lines, and techno-style beats mixed perfectly with Ilan Rubin’s own playing to create a wonderful soundscape that’s perfectly unique to the Angels & Airwaves toolkit.
The lyrics featured throughout “Rebel Girl” are still slightly cheesy, but that’s where the heart of this fast-paced ’80s sounding experience excels as listeners worldwide continue to sing, “Do you wanna go back to where we started?/Back before we were broken-hearted?” The intensity of the track’s cheesy style lyrics, such as “Come a little closer now/And let me in your world,” is only amplified in a live setting as the track live builds up more momentum and climaxes perfectly as if the band transported the audience to their own Angels & Airwaves centered dance club.
“Rebel Girl” was the perfect single to kick off the band’s LIFEFORMS era and should be seen as a template for Angels & Airwaves going forward as they continue to create new music. It’s a fun song with love at the center that highlights the band at their best, making a genuinely new-age love song for space-punk kids.
A Fire in a Nameless Town:
Beyond popular opinion, “A Fire in a Nameless Town” is one of my favorite LIFEFORMS tracks. The ninth track also happens to be a turning point between the story being told between “Rebel Girl” and “Kiss & Tell,” a beautiful storyline of fleeting love, moving on, and finding love once more. It should also be noted that this is the rawest Tom DeLonge presents himself throughout LIFEFORMS, choosing instead of the band’s usual anthemic overtures for a more intimate experience that’s both personal and heartbreaking.
“I’m really not that special and you’re all I have/I’m scared to death you’ll figure it out,” is just one example of how DeLonge presents himself to listeners in “A Fire in a Nameless Town.” A beautiful look into the mind of a man many deem as their hero, a vulnerable take on love, reflection on oneself, all wrapped in a sensational sound that’s both calm and erratic, like an erupting wildfire inside of the heart. Lyrically, “A Fire in a Nameless Town” holds a few key lines that will likely stay with me my entire life, “Go, I don’t mind/I’ll wait here if you search for yourself there” and “And if you leave this life behind, I’ll stall/Will you imagine you and I at all?”
A song I’d love to hear live, as I believe the band has created a compelling musical experience that would have fans gripping their hearts in anguish and emotional attachment as they sing along. A beautiful song that transitions between “Rebel Girl” and “Kiss & Tell” wonderfully.
Kiss & Tell:
My favorite track off of LIFEFORMS is, hands down “Kiss & Tell,” and it’s been that way since the single was released in August of 2019. “Kiss & Tell” is filled with carefree spirit as it gives a call back to the album’s intro piece, “Timebomb,” in its own lyric, “Watch the bomb I made go off.” “Kiss & Tell” finishes the story being told throughout LIFEFORMS, bringing things to a head as an explosive piece of sound that leaves the album feeling like a memorable one.
Instrumentally, “Kiss & Tell” is filled with fast-paced guitar riffs, drum beats that hit harder than anything else Angels & Airwaves has produced in recent memory, and a bass line that I play constantly. Don’t even get me started on how good the guys sound while performing “Kiss & Tell” in a live setting, as it’s even more explosive and filled with high-energy antics. A fun body moving time, a song that is built to be a classic for the space-punk band as a track that sounds amazing blaring through car speakers with the windows rolled down.
“Kiss & Tell” like “Rebel Girl” is home to insanely cheesy lyrics that also double as fearsome earworms that will hook into listeners’ minds as they sing along even after the track has been long over. “Like when kids say “never say never”/Runnin’ blind with a pair of sharp scissors,” is just one example of the cheese listeners will find within “Kiss & Tell,” but the heart and soul of this rough housin’ track is its infectious chorus that has many singing, “No, no, don’t you kiss and tell.”
Leaving listeners on a bit of a cliffhanger as DeLonge ends the track with a simple string of “I can’t wait this one won’t/Last if I don’t let her go,” leaving myself and listeners on the brink of wanting more injected right into our veins.
LIFEFORMS is the Angels & Airwaves I always wanted, the band I always knew they could be, and this is Tom DeLonge loving what he’s doing, which is simply having fun with his friends. Making kickass music is just a bonus. LIFEFORMS managed to exceed my initial expectations and will quickly become an album I have on repeat just as much as I tend to have We Don’t Need To Whisper spinning from time to time. If this album indicates what fans can expect from the future of Angels & Airwaves, things are certainly looking bright for these space-punks and the fan base.
LIFEFORMS can, of course, be streamed on your favorite streaming service. But, if you’re more of a physical media kind of person, you can pick up Angels & Airwaves’ latest album in a variety of different vinyl variants as well as your standard CD. Both of which come with the band’s excellent space condom packaging.
Also, if you’d like to experience a handful of LIFEFORMS live alongside other fan-favorite songs by Angels & Airwaves, the band is still hitting the road for the 2021 leg of their LIFEFORMS tour. You can check out tour dates and pick up remaining tickets via their official website right now. I’ve been to one LIFEFORMS tour show already and can’t wait to experience the band’s phenomenal show again on November 5th at the Hollywood Palladium.