Tom DeLonge’s post-Blink-182 project of Angels & Airwaves didn’t take long to follow up its 2006 debut. Radio stations still were playing its singles from that when “I-Empire” hit stores. The bleed-over is appropriate, as “I-Empire” doesn’t stray from the sound that made its predecessor so surprisingly winning; in fact, it has the feel of being disc two of a double album.
With A&A comprised of former members of bands I don’t like’ 30 Seconds to Mars, Rocket from the Crypt’ I would’ve been the first to label this “supergroup” sonically dead. But amazingly, A&A sounds nothing like any of its members’ pasts; the sum truly is greater than its parts. Sporting super-crisp production from DeLonge himself, “I-Empire” shimmers with a guitar-driven, arena-rock sound. It’s not hard to imagine the dozen songs here unfolding and exploding from an outdoor amphitheater stage on a warm summer evening, with the stars in the sky twinkling in time with the beat.
The tunes are written as urgent melodies, both feel-good and headphone-ready. If there’s a catch, it’s in DeLonge’s grating, whiny vocals.