CD Review: AFI – ‘Crash Love’

AFI go back to their roots (sort-of) with this passionate punk rock collection. On opening track ‘Torch Song’, Davey Havok‘s trademark soothing tones push up against powerful riffs and anthemic gang vocals. The chorus builds up to a massive crescendo with the bleak but resounding lyrics: “I’d tear out my eyes for you dear”. It’s all about the stabbing punk drums and heart-wrenching vocals for this one. That’s before ‘Beautiful Thieves’ fires off with some tasty riffage and a delectable pop sheen that’ll doubtless send shivers down your spine and make you bounce in a euphoric stupor in the same way that ‘Miss Murder’ did to you on the last record. Sound fun? We thought it might.

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‘End Transmission’ is a true standout that mixes enchanting keyboard touches in with confident guitar twangs and Havok‘s most satisfying vocal performance yet. This one is a potential new favourite for the group and it will command mass sing-a-longs from the band’s dedicated fan base. A proud and emotive tune that leads head-first into the confident pop powerhouse that is ‘Too Shy To Scream’. This baby moves things forward with machinegun beats from the off, one of the most pop-orientated tracks the group has ever produced and fortunately it’s deliciously infectious at the same time.

‘Veronica Sawyer Smokes’ is a dark-indie track that draws the slightest influence from early Placebo. On this, sensitive vocals, hypnotic gang chants and soaring guitars hide the dark undertones of the words and its emotive imagery. ‘OK, I Feel Better Now’ is a soulful rocker that will lift you up from out of your moodiest of moments, meanwhile ‘Medicate’ has a definite old-school flavour to it. There’s tonnes of angst in the vocals that mixes in with grandiose and powerful guitars. By contrast, ‘I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here’ is a balls-out pop-punk behemoth.

‘Sacrilege’ is an altogether darker affair that features solid beats which leap off bouncing riffs and vitriolic vocals before the anthemic and driving ‘Darling, I Want To Destroy You’. Again, here the band expertly mask dark themes underneath uplifting melodies and a strong attitude. ‘Cold Hands’ strikes with melodic post-punk precision before ‘It Was Mine‘ finishes things off and readily displays the band’s Cure influence, specifically within the guitars. Almost ballad-like, it’s heart-wrenching and beautiful in equal parts and probably the most lyrically hard-hitting track on the record.

It’s a shame that Havok and co. have not incorporated the progressive and electronic elements that made ‘December Underground’ such an attractive and diverse record. However, this album will be far more satisfying to die-hard fans and it’ll show the newer breed of eyeliner-wearing bands and pretenders just what really good pop-infected punk music should sound like.

For more information visit the official MySpace.

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