For guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge, abandoning the multiplatinum, permanent pop-punk prom that was Blink-182 for his own brainchild, Angels & Airwaves, is like attempting a promotion from the Monkees to U2. DeLonge (alongside three lesser punk-lite luminaries), you see, is now seeking something more thoughtful, grown-up and significant. Thankfully, he's retained his instinctive street-level songcraft (though it sometimes seems to be the same song), meaning that A&A end up sounding more like a maturing Blink than he probably intended. But DeLonge isn't kidding: Angels released their second album in 18 months, I-Empire, last November, continuing the grandiose-yet-peppy theme of their '06 debut, We Don't Need to Whisper. It's more Forum-ready refrains; emo-approved, eyes-on-the-horizon optimism; twinkly guitars 'n' keys; and wafts of '80s MTV. While hardly of Dave Grohl proportions, DeLonge's effort to reinvent himself is both admirable and (more crucially) singable — if not remotely as fucking important as he thinks it is.
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