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Album review: AFI's 'Crash Love'

September 29, 2009 |  6:34 pm


The boys of AFI are goth lifers -- though it's not the makeup (well, not entirely) but their message. The dozen tracks on the band's latest, "Crash Love," once again mourn decay and romance gone wrong over sweeping, layered post-punk guitars. To singer-lyricist Davey Havok, love is an endlessly tragic and anxious state: "I'd tear out my eyes for you, my dear / anything to see everything that you do."

Produced by Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee with the band, "Crash Love" is AFI's most confident, enjoyable album yet. Though there remain echoes of the Cure, the Smiths and many other morose pop heroes from the 1980s, the result feels more organic now, rooted in the genuinely bleak and hopeless rather than the simply theatrical sounds of My Chemical Romance.

Within the collection's tightly crafted 43 minutes is music of gloom, force and energy. The band finds hope and something approaching joy in the rousing, anthemic "Beautiful Thieves," and Jade Puget's guitars sound bright enough for endless radio rotation on "Veronica Sawyer Smokes." Hard-core riffs lurk beneath the pleading vocals on "Sacrilege."

The music of AFI wasn't always as daring as its fashion sense, but the NoCal band has grown with accelerating sophistication, stepping further beyond easy pop-punk thrashings to something grander, with music to match the mopey melodrama of Havok's words.

-- Steve Appleford

"Crash Love"
Three and a half stars (Out of four)