#118 – Start the Machine


Artist – Angels & Airwaves
Album – We Don’t Need to Whisper
Year – 2006
Genre – Alternative Rock/Space Rock

Say what you will about Tom DeLonge, he knows how to pour on the feels when he wants to. Case in point, Angels & Airwaves. This anthemic rock band knows how to use every sound and effect out there to create an atmosphere like no other. But let’s get one thing straight: just because a band is “anthemic,” doesn’t mean they sound like U2, or are trying in any way to copy U2. Ok? Because this band does not sound like U2. Good. Sorry, it’s just a pet peeve I’ve seen so many critics use. In any case, “Start the Machine” is AVA at their finest, with Tom’s poignant songwriting and obvious passion in full force from beginning to end.

The toy piano intro is a really cool way to start off a song if you ask me. It’s a perfect contrast to the booming bass and rumbling sound effects that kick the song in. All of the tricks that AVA have in their bag come out instrumentally in this song. DeLonge busts out echoing vocals in his trademark style, and the synth sets that spacey mood with it’s big, immersive sound.

The song fits into a rising/falling pattern, with the verses pulling you up and reaching a climax with the huge chorus, then falling back down to the next verse with the cycle repeating. DeLonge’s voice fits perfectly with the sound of the band, and let’s face it, I’m a huge sucker for echo vocals. But nevertheless, his voice is clean and crystal clear, but it has that not-quite-perfectness to it that keeps that emotional honesty visceral.

After the second chorus, we finally hear the guitar sound this band is famous for. It’s big, open, echoing, spacey guitar tone that’s used in just about every AVA song I can think of. However, it never get’s old for me because it sounds damn good. It’s got the edge that you want in a rock song, but the smooth tone of a relaxing ballad all in one.

Delonge really puts himself out there on the end of this song, with the melody (which was already catchy, mind you) going totally out of the park. The repeated lines and constant build of the end with a final return to the intro bring the song full circle and close it out perfectly.

Speaking of lines, I really love the cryptic lyrics of this song. It’s obviously a love song, but it’s done in such a way that it really sounds like a tone poem. It seems like he’s speaking of marriage, especially in the awesomely written bridge, but the verses and especially the chorus pack just as much of a punch, especially the “you know I won’t say sorry” lines. However, the final phrase is a beautiful one indeed:

“If love’s the word, that you say
Say it, I will listen.”

Holy cow what a line. The whole emotional dynamic between two people in love is captured here, and if this doesn’t give you chills…well maybe not, but you have to give it to the man for this one. It’s the kind of line that really makes you appreciate love in your life, and that’s so important.

I think anyone should have Angels & Airwaves on their Ipod. Hell, my Mom likes them. And if they get Mom’s seal of approval…well you know it’s got to be good. Crazy good melody, talented texturing and great lyrics. Sold.

Thanks for reading, and speaking of starting machines, let’s start up the like and comment machine. And also the share machine. And if we try hard enough, the follow machine too. 🙂


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