Review: AFI – Bodies

Bodies granted a wish I have held onto for 11 years: AFI revisited the pop sound they first explored in 2009’s masterpiece album, Crash Love. While most of their discography is known for dark, powerful rock music, Crash Love and Bodies act as anti-pop albums even while fully embracing that sound. But while Crash Love maneuvered that transition in sound flawlessly, Bodies struggles to make its mark. There are a lot of good ideas on Bodies, but the album flashes past them in an incredibly fast 36 minutes.

You can buy or stream Bodies on Apple Music.

Part of what Bodies lacks is letting the band cut loose in the ways we know they can. Although incorporating more dance elements than ever before, the music is more relaxed and reserved than anything the band has ever written (“Dulceria”). This dynamic, however, allows bassist Hunter Burgan and drummer Adam Carson to take center stage to most songs (“Death of the Party”). While guitarist Jade Puget gets less opportunity to show off the fact he is one of the best artists in rock, he truly shines when the chance presents itself (“No Eyes”).

If there is a weakness to Bodies, it may be the lyrics. While vocalist Davey Havok has amassed a legion of fans with his poetic and grim verses over the years, Bodies’ are more vague than usual and lack the flare of presentation that could offset that. Havok, meanwhile, delivers a stellar performance, even if some of his vocal experimentation doesn’t always land (“Dulceria”).

Bodies works on a theme of robust romanticism and the destruction of self from obsessing over lust and beauty. At once hyper sexualized, such as “On Your Back” (“I want to tell you, but I know I’ve said too much / About the history, about the signs / You’ve opened on your thighs, so they may speak your mind upon love”), Bodies finds its footing in the rejection of romance. 

“Looking Tragic” has Havok exploring sexual frustration against a gorgeous guitar riff (“This may be boring / Is it less than a total mess? / In a minute this may turn sour, if we last”), while “Death of the Party” explores the loss felt from someone leaving the relationship after the narrator had used them (“Where, oh where, did you last see her? / She was right there soaking in black fur”).

“No Eyes” explores the loss of someone by focusing on her mascara (“Every blush behind the lines, every cooly spoken line / Reminding me that you aren’t mine”) over a frantic punk riff. Closing song “Tied to a Tree” offers the most poetic verse on the album, laid against a near offensive sounding acoustic guitar as Havok reflects on how his obsession with lust and beauty has lead to utter ruin, and he finds himself alone by his own doing (“Where we used to meet / To see how good you look / In my dying light”). Bodies is arguably the biggest risk AFI have taken in a long time. While the experimentation to their sound and style doesn’t always work as well as it should, it’s a welcome endeavor for a band this deep into their storied career. The fact that Bodies somehow sounds utterly foreign and yet distinctly AFI is a testament to the skill of songwriting, even at its weakest.

3.5/5

Photo by Jacob Boll

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_cat

Kyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and accidentally walked into the middle of six people fighting each other because he was really into his audiobook.

Review: AFI – Burials

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Fans of AFI’s brand of punk know that the band tends to outdo themselves with each new release, and that no two records sound exactly the same. However, their newest release, Burials, isn’t so much a forging into new territory as it is a culmination of everything the band has done over the last decade. Burials is a brilliant mix of Crash Love’s sonic pop, Decemberunderground’s electronic rock, and Sing the Sorrow’s dark, gothic punk.

Burials is an exercise in craft for a band that no longer needs to prove themselves to the scene as much as they need to entertain themselves creatively. The album is a slow build up that allows the songwriting room to breathe. It’s not as loud or as punk as most of AFI’s releases, and it’s not meant to be. This is an album that toys with your expectations.

The opener, “The Sinking Night” is a return to form of the short intro songs from Sing the Sorrow and Decemberunderground, drawn out into a two minute ballad. Lead single “I Hope You Suffer” is a toxic rock song that sets the tone for the record: deliberate, quiet, and all at once explosive. An underlay of Blaqk Audio-esque piano floats over the bass guitar, booming at brain shattering levels, to create an exposition and atmosphere not seen too often. “The Conductor” has a haunting guitar melody that begs to lead crowds singing out loud. The last few songs though harkens back to Sing The Sorrow days with gritty guitar riffs Davy’s dark lyricism.

Once again, Jade’s guitar mastery is second to none, as he plays well enough that it seems like there are two guitarists. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect is Davy Havok’s lyrics on this round, as they’re much more straightforward for the most part and lack some of the goth poetic qualities that made earlier releases so intriguing. However, Burials is a moody juggernaut that brings AFI back to their signature dark rock. Once again, AFI proves that sometimes experience is the better fuel for art than experimentation.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.