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AFI Never Disappoints!
on October 8, 2009
I have never disliked a single release by AFI and that trend will at least continue at a minimum up to their next album because I think this new album is absolutely brilliant! Unlike all other AFI albums this album focuses mainly on personal and romantic relationships on almost every single track and even features a song about Davey's opinion on organized religion (Sacrilege), and we even get to find out who Davey's adolescent celebrity crush was (Veronica Sawyer Smokes) and it certainly is no surprise to find out who it was because Davey used a quote from one of her movies back on the Art of Drowning ("My whole life is a dark room, one big dark room"), I'll let you guess who that actress is, now back to the album! This album, as other reviewers have already mentioned, features no screaming vocals (except on the bonus track "Fainting Spells"! The lack of aggressive/angry vocals does give the album a less aggressive feel than pretty much every other AFI album, but what it lacks in the aggression department it more than makes up for it in the melody and songwriting department because every track is incredibly melodic and fantastically written! The choruses on the album are the general highlight of the album for me, every song has a big, melodic, extremely memorable chorus with, as always, great and intelligent lyrics! The lyrics are a bit more straighforward on this release and less cryptic than they usually are, so it is a bit different, but no less effective!
The album opens with "Torch Song", which is actually one of the heavier songs on the album with very abrasive drums and bass and great solos and leads by guitarist Jade Puget, this album features the best guitar work of Jade's career in my opinion! The song has a somewhat similar feel to Sing the Sorrow-era AFI, and is definitely one of the better songs on the album . "Beautiful Thieves" is one of the songs that will be released as a single in the near future, and it is simply a great song. It opens up with a hard and building bass line by Hunter and then leads into the ear orgasming melody of the chorus, in which Davey sings, "If we run this light, take a little life, no one will care at all. We can burn it and leave, for we are the beautiful thieves, no one suspects at all." The song, as many of the songs are not only about romance, but death as well, the next track follows a similar lyrical pattern. "End Transmission" is a very new-wave and goth inspired song, with music heavily influenced by the Cure, The Smiths, Morrissey, etc. The guitar work by Jade, as the product description describes, sounds very Smiths-esque. The song is one of the slower and more mellow tracks on the album, and the highlight of the song has to be Jade's guitar work, which is truly beautiful on this song, the song has an 80's feel, and is definitely one of the best tracks on the album! Davey's lyrics and vocals are some of his best from the whole album on this track.
"Too Shy to Scream" is definitely one of the more upbeat songs on the album and features basically a swing inspired drum beat and stop-start guitar work by Jade which leads into a very melodic and somewhat cliche' chorus about being completely infatuated by somebody, this is definitely a good song, but probably the only song on the album that didn't blow me away. "Veronica Sawyer Smokes" is easily one of the best songs on this album, and probably one of the best that AFI has wrote since Sing the Sorrow. It is about Davey's adolescent infatuation with Winona Ryder and how he was eventually disillusioned by her! The song is less than 3 minutes long and is very addictive, it has a somewhat mellow beat like "End Transmission", but has a very optimistic quality to it, to me this song is flawless! "Okay, I Feel Better Now" starts out very slow, but keeps building and building until it really picks up with an amazing chorus, the song seems at least somewhat influenced by U2. The outro of the song may be the higlight as the song reaches it's climax!
"Medicate" is definitely one of the fastest and upbeat songs on the album, and obviously is incredibly catchy (they chose it as the first single), and features some incredible guitar work by Jade. It showcases the fact that AFI were once one of the best punk rock bands in the world! The breakdown a little past the middle of the song is one of the highlights of the album, with the very depressing (albeit somewhat cliche') lyrics by Davey with music to match, "I feel nothing at all"! Then the song erupts into all out blistering rock with an amazing solo by Jade to end the song! "I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here" is about celebrities and Hollywood and is another of the more upbeat and faster songs on the album and actually features a very punk rock inspired breakdown towards the end of the song, and the chorus sounds very similar to something on Decemberunderground! "Sacrilege" is a song that is basically about Davey's opinion on religion. It is definitely one of the standouts on the album. This may be the lyrical highlight for Davey on the album as he speaks about the problems that religion has caused the world! The song is very fast and has some incredible hooks thoughout the song that grab you and don't let you go!
"Darling I Want to Destroy You" may be destined for the top of the rock radio charts because it is simply one of the most melodic songs I have ever heard, and it is definitely one of my favorites from the album. The huge chorus is just flat-out amazing and has had me singing it over and over since I first got the album over a week ago! The vocals and lyrics give you the feel of a high school dance or something of that nature as Davey sings about meeting someone in a setting like that and beforehand planning to eventually break their heart once they fall for you! "Cold Hands" is another of the faster and harder rocking songs on the album and doesn't really slow down until the chorus when Davey sings about being fed up with your lover and/or breaking up. The song is another of the main highlights of the album, and definitely one of my favorites. "It Was Mine" is the slowest and most depressing song on the album, which seems to be about the horrible feeling of heartbreak and knowing that the relationship that meant everything to you is now over - forever! It is the probably the biggest outlier of the album and doesn't really sound like the rest of the album. The group chant of "all we love goes away" toward the end of the songs reminds me of the Beatles or Queen!
The bonus songs are just as good as the real album. "Fainting Spells" is a B-side from Decemberunderground and is the only song to feature some screaming vocals by Davey, and is a hard rocker that starts out with Davey singing accompanied only by an acoustic guitar and then when the chorus comes in the song erupts into pure hard rock and Davey screaming very aggressively! There is also the most evil sounding bass breakdown I have ever heard on this song, it's effing awesome from like 2:15-2:40! "We've Got the Knife" is a B-side from the Crash Love sessions and starts out kind of slow and boring, but the song picks up for the bridge and chorus, and the guitar work follows suit becoming very loud after the verses! Besides the slow verses, the song is just great, and like the whole Crash Love album is features undeniable melody and great songwriting. "Where We Used to Play" is kind of similar to "We've Got the Knife" because it starts out a little bit slow, and then erupts into what may have been the best chorus on the whole Crash Love album, but for some reason was taken off of the album. This is one of the best songs on the whole album by far, with just a beautiful chorus that reminds me of "Days of the Phoenix" due to the lyrical content of memories and childhood! This song is brilliant. "100 Words" was a B-Side from Sing the Sorrow and is a slower track and starts out almost exactly like "This Time Imperfect" and is just as beautiful and I can't believe that this and these other songs on the bonus disk are B-Sides because they are all excellent songs!
So, overall this album is truly excellent. The album is very addictive and repeated listens reveal more and more intricacies that make you love it more! For some people, you will have to listen to the album many times for the true nature of these songs to be revealed. There are no bad songs on either the album or the bonus disk! This is AFI's most melodic album by far, and also the least aggressive, but it is all the better for it! AFI never look back and try to retread the past, and this album is no different, they have evolved and sound just as good as ever! I recommend this album to all AFI fans who liked Art of Drowning, Sing the Sorrow, and Decemberunderground! To all the punk fans who only like the earlier and middle AFI albums - DO NOT BUY THIS, if you only like punk rock you will not like this album! I love all AFI albums, and this is a perfect addition to their catalogue, stop reading this and go buy the album, you won't be disappointed!