Angels and Airwaves: ‘Paralyzed’ Single Review

Courtesy of Your Last Call via Soundcloud

Yesterday morning, a YouTube video purporting to contain the new Angels and Airwaves (abbreviated AVA) single appeared somewhat surreptitiously online. The song, “Paralyzed,” is widely conjectured to be the lead single from the band’s upcoming fourth studio album Poet, which is slated for release on Halloween. However, the band—or their label—seem to be sending mixed messages of sorts, as the video was pulled from YouTube within several hours of its initial posting. Though there are now ripped versions of “Paralyzed” floating around on Soundcloud, the song itself is only available for purchase through Nokia’s MixRadio at this time, which doesn’t exactly give AVA and their new material an air of accessibility.

The politics of this pseudo-song drop aside, “Paralyzed” is, itself, a pretty solid tune. It’s gritty and heavy, though elementary in the way of many of Tom DeLonge’s pop compositions—though this doesn’t necessarily diminish the song’s overall likability. It’s, for sure, less pretentious-sounding than much of AVA’s old material, which was deliberately, though fumblingly, heady and conceptual.

Production-wise, the song is executed with taste and discerning technique. It’s steeped in background synths and percussion, and the vibrato guitar line throughout adds to this wall-of-sound-style layering. This layering gives the song a thick, atmospheric sound, which is anchored by a heavily distorted bass line. Of course, the guitar, bass, and synth tones are all high-quality, as one would expect from any producer working with a band of Angels and Airwaves’ caliber.

Of note on “Paralyzed” are Tom DeLonge’s vocals, often the bane of fans of his music who find his projects outside Blink-182 a tad self-serious. Throughout the single, DeLonge keeps his vocal line simple, his melody never straying out of the same four or so notes. Although, it’s interesting the vocals are so far down in the mix. Perhaps the song hasn’t been properly mastered (the fact it was pulled down could suggest a leak) pending the album’s release. Or perhaps DeLonge has finally come to terms with the grating, nasal, boyish timbre of his vocals, realizing they better serve Blink-182, complemented by Mark Hoppus’ singing and comprised of themes from a more, well, high-school context (not that there’s anything wrong with sounding sophomoric in this case; Blink-182 seems to be the grand exception to the trend of lyrical maturation in groups with such longevity). As for the lyrics themselves, they haven’t yet been posted online and are very difficult to make out. The only truly discernible lyrical qualities at this point in time are those of formula, simplicity, and a rudimentary rhyme scheme.

“Paralyzed” is, of course, tremendously catchy; after all, DeLonge is, himself, the epitome of pop-rock penmanship. In terms of his canon, though, this single is a bit middling, barely producing a notable spike on the EKG of DeLonge’s decades-long career. And it’s not exactly the most original composition, either. In a brief writeup of the song, Brandon Flores of Blast Out Your Stereo claims he “can’t help but cringe that the rift used throughout the track is pretty much just a slowed down take on Blink-182′s ‘Ghost On The Dancefloor.’”

It makes sense Tom DeLonge’s newer songs from his respective projects are beginning to sound the same: many musicians’ styles become more unified over the course of their careers, and DeLonge—who’s never exactly been known for his prodigious musicianship—is hardly an exception. There’s no reason, however, to expect anything dissatisfying from Poet, only that it’s more of a treat than a trick, come October 31st.