The American rockers of AFI have returned with their latest release, entitled “Bodies,” released on June 6th, 2011, via Rise Records. The band’s most recent effort prior was their self-titled album in 2017, meaning that it’s been a while since we’ve heard from this ever-evolving band.
AFI have been on my radar since the early 2000s, as their Gothic aesthetic during their “horror punk” phase tickled me just right (it was 2003’s “Sing the Sorrow” that made me fall in love with the band). While these Americans originally started out as a punk outfit, they’ve moved through Gothic and post-hardcore as I’ve lost touch with them. The last album I recall catching was 2009’s “Crash Love,” which as a whole didn’t stick with me, despite having some of the band’s best individual songs on it (shout out to “Darling I Want to Destroy You”). This new album seemed like a great opportunity to revisit what their sound has become in the most recent decade.
“Bodies” begins with a pretty standard AFI piece, “Twisted Tongues,” which opens with drums and Davey Havok‘s voice before the wailing guitars come in, building up a speedy dynamic but mellowing out a bit in the chorus. The traditional AFI atmosphere/ambience is present but without much of the punk aesthetic of the past, which is – by my experience – quite in keeping with their style in more recent years. It’s a pretty good opener but doesn’t quite top any of their previous openers for catchiness or energy.
A hint of their shreddier past shows in “Far Too Near,” which also has an effect on Havok‘s voice that we’ve heard in the past. This makes the vocals blend more into the instruments, making it harder to understand the lyrics but likewise gives the song a nice fluidity. “Dulcería” opens on a groovy bass line as gentle vocals by Havok dance about, teasing the listener with his softer side as the bass does most of the heavy lifting with the guitars added for flavor, while “On Your Back” is more of a punk-lite indie song that wouldn’t feel out of place next to WEEZER, though Havok dips into his punkier voice even further with “Escape from Los Angeles,” which has a somewhat Jerry Only style to the singing. I, for one, wasn’t expecting to hear much of this style anymore and the track doesn’t work very well to my ear (as someone who prefers their more melodic side), though fans of their punkier material might appreciate the vocal stylings of this piece.
The quick pace and creative bass lines are the main highlight of “Begging for Trouble,” which could be at home on 2006’s “Decemberunderground,” though “Back from the Flesh” has a slower, more ominous feel to it as one of the slowest songs on the album. “Looking Tragic” is mid-tempo and catchy, though its simplicity prevents it from standing out more than it does. Classic AFI bass once more returns to open up “Death of the Party,” which has Havok again sounding a bit more muffled and blended into the mix, rather than forefronted. At just over 2:20 in run time, the song feels a bit like filler. “No Eyes” is the penultimate track, another high/mid-tempo track that maintains the band’s sound without really adding anything too special to the mix. The album closes with the slower, ambient, and echoey “Tied to a Tree,” which has almost no drumming and a very ominous feel to it, leaving the album on a very haunting note.
On the whole, this album sounds pretty consistent with AFI‘s most recent stylistic era and fans of the “Crash Love” to “AFI” albums will surely find a lot to like here. While personally I didn’t find any true highlights, as there is nothing that much resembles such greats as “God Called in Sick Today,” “Days of the Phoenix,” or “This Celluloid Dream,” that just goes to show that AFI and I have grown apart stylistically, as I liked them best when they had a bit more energy. If you’re more into post-hardcore and indie, this should be right up your alley due to its strong melodies, ambient vibes, and of course, Davey Havok‘s varied vocals. Fans of the older material may not find this any more interesting than their other recent efforts due to the lack of bangers and memorable tracks, but for more modern fans, “Bodies” is perfectly enjoyable to throw on. It simply doesn’t hold up under the microscope.
- Twisted Tongues
- Far too Near
- On Your back
- Escape from Los Angeles
- Begging for Trouble
- Back from the Flesh
- Looking Tragic
- Death of the Party
- No Eyes
- Tied to a Tree
Davey Havok – vocals
Jade Puget – guitars, keyboards/synth
Hunter Burgan – bass
Adam Carson – drums