Does AFI’s long awaited 11th studio album live up to the hype?
Four years after their last LP, the seemingly ageless AFI are back with their latest album Bodies. Does it live up to their usual high bar? Here are my track by track musings:
From the opening track Twisted Tongues we are greeted with Adam’s familiar energetic drumming, Jade’s signature guitar tone chugging and ringing, Hunter’s devious bass lines driving, and Davey’s ever sweet vocals casting their captivating spell.
Far Too Near – Same energy, Jade is noticeably in full swing on this track. They’re in their element right here.
Dulceria – Bassist Hunter is playing funk… it’s different, but it works. Touches of influence from The Cure show through nicely. I did, however, find the key-changes at every bridge and then every chorus of this track a little jarring, and it just goes on for nearly 5 minutes. Hey, they can’t all be gold. What’s next?
On Your Back – Hunter on top form as always, but Jade feels barely there until the very outro, and I’ve started to notice a recurring pattern which I’ll get into shortly.
Escape from LA – 80’s Electro vibe with this track, but at the cost of what feels like Hunter and Jade in the most part, and I can’t help but feel like the chorus builds up to nothing. I think you guys need to get out of LA.
Begging for Trouble – This track is easily what I regard as the most ‘Modern Era AFI*’ track on the whole album, which I like. It certainly wouldn’t have been out of place on Crash Love.
Back from the Flesh – Honestly, this track is my least favourite track on the album. I don’t dislike it as much as the Burials album, but it’s close. It’s just not for me.
Looking Tragic – Back on track to good AFI. Not Peak AFI, but good. I feel this track wouldn’t be out of place on Decemberunderground.
Death of the Party – This track is interesting due to some of the stylistic choices made. Adam is playing… I want to say a toolbox, not a drum kit? I don’t hate it though.
No Eyes – Another track that harkens back to Decemberunderground, and lyrically it’s the closest to Davey’s usual form of poetic prowess.
Tied to a Tree – A thematic piece that should’ve been the opening track of the album, and one I imagine will be used to open upcoming shows. Although there truly is nothing like a show opening with thousands of people chanting “Through our bleeding, we are one!”. God I love Strength Through Wounding.
After several playthroughs of this album it’s started to grow on me, but there are several things I find jarring with it, many of which I listed above, so if I were to give this album a numerical rating based on my personal enjoyment, it’s probably a 6/10.
This has genuinely been one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write, as being a massive fan of a band, giving their new release a middling review is difficult. But I accept that the band has chosen, as they do, to explore other avenues of creativity that may not align with my own tastes.
It happened before with the album Burials (which I hate, with the exception of I Hope You Suffer), but I still kept tabs on the comings and goings of the band members. I still listened to and loved the old tracks, and the very old tracks, and the side projects (Dreamcar, XTRMST, Las Gatas Beach Club).
I anticipated the release of their next single, their next album, and when our paths crossed again with Blood Album it was joyous. You don’t have to love everything a band/artist puts out to be a fan, you just have to love the band. 18(ish) years after discovering them, I still listen to them practically every day. I still have the CDs, the 7” Singles and 12” Albums, the T-shirts, the hat, hell… even the tattoo. So, to Davey, Jade, Hunter, and Adam, I hugely appreciate your artistic endeavours, even if they’re not meant for me. I am already waiting to see what you do next (more Las Gatas Beach Club, Hunter? Please?)
On a side note, earlier in the review I mentioned a pattern forming with Davey’s lyrics of recent. It has become apparent that ‘New Era AFI** Davey appears to have shed his flair for the poetic, in exchange for a more repetitive, often noticeably simpler set of lyrics. Get Dark was the first instance in which I noticed the shift, but many of the tracks released since have felt lacking lyrically. Just compare Break Angels with even Miss Murder. This is a trend I hope they break soon, because that was what was the most disappointing part of this album.
*Modern Era AFI = Decemberunderground to Blood Album
**New Era AFI = The Missing Man EP and newer