The fifth and latest release from Angels & Airwaves is the first without Atom Willard and Matt Wachter, replaced by IIan Rubin and Eddie Breckenbridge respectively. Although it was confirmed that David Kennedy would be returning, he didn't appear on the album for unknown reasons. The Dream Walker album is part of a much bigger multimedia project, with plans for comic books, graphic novels, a short film and video animations surrounding a central character known as Poet Anderson. As always, Tom DeLonge thinks outside of the box, his concepts and the projects that accompany them are creatively vast and courageous, and The Dream Walker is no exception. From day one, Tom had described Angels & Airwaves as more than a band, but as an art project exploring human themes via different mediums.
From the grandiose piano intro for the catchy opener 'Teenagers & Rituals', to the dark wave-inspired 'Bullets In The wind', it's evident that whilst many of the initial influences remain, Tom's approach to these influences has changed and expanded. With all the rhetorical oomph of earlier work, this heavily electronic album borrows from early eighties new wave/synthpop sensibilities pioneered by bands such as Ultravox blends them with a touch of Robert Smith's poetic nature and cranks them up to 100.
'The Wolfpack' in particular is a high point of the album, with a killer synth intro leading into a hook-laden verse that's a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. Arguably one of the best tracks on the album, and a perfect choice for the first single that showcases the musical direction Angels & Airwaves had chosen for The Dream Walker.
There's also less arena rock about this album, while much of the chiming guitar remains, there's more depth to the melody, more harmonies, more eighties synthesiser. This is particularly evident in 'The Disease', which is a wonderfully chipper, catchy track despite the title! And suddenly for the final track, a complete curveball in the form of the acoustic 'Anomaly' which wraps The Dream Walker up in a lyrically lovely, poetic surprise.
The trend of Tom's songwriting is certainly far less bleak than it was, compared to We Don't Need To whisper, his projects have become gradually more uplifting and positive, and with it the sound of the band has evolved. The album was met with a positive response from critics and reviewers, with AllMusic stating it had "more texture and dimension than Love", and the album scoring 5/6 stars in The Rolling Stone magazine.
With many projects attached to The Dream Walker, including the short film Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker, for which Tom cites influences including Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange and Akira, which won Best Animated Film at the Toronto International Short Film Festival, it's interesting to see where Tom will go next with his recent departure from Blink-182.