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AFI Crash Love Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

An expansive eighth studio album from the Californians.

Raziq Rauf 2009

It’s mandatory for a band to openly state during pre-release promotional interviews that this album is the biggest, boldest, bestest thing they’ve done in their career. They have given everything to this. When AFI say it, it’s always that bit more believable.

While idle comparisons to other punks-turned-alt-rockers Green Day will surely abound once again, it’s important to note that these Californian four-piece have always focussed heavily on the alternative side of their sound. Overblown drama and sorrow-laden theatre has always been massive parts of what they do and why they do it, and overblown and sorrow-laden is exactly what Crash Love is.

With 2006’s Decemberunderground, AFI (aka A Fire Inside) reached the height of their powers as their seventh album hit the top spot in America and entered the Top 20 in the UK. And where does a band go from there? Well, the quartet has opted to sand their more abrasive corners down for a gentler, more melodic approach. With characteristically cascading guitars and deep moans from Davey Havok, it’s still unmistakeably AFI, but it’s just different enough.

The comfort of familiarity has gone from Crash Love. Whereas both band and fans usually enjoy that comfort in equal measure, the quartet now leans toward a sound much closer to The Cure and The Smiths than ever before, and while this is still within their fans’ remit, it might take a little bit of getting used to. The rewards, however, are there for the taking.

Veronica Sawyer Smokes is a song plucked from the Mancunian hit parade of the 1980s and OK, I Feel Better Now should be accompanied by a wig similar to one of Robert Smith’s more extravagant hair days – just to help exude the mood. Saying that, the production on both of these songs – however much they might ape their influences – is magnificent. If there ever was a time to describe an album as expansive, it is now.

The lolloping thumps of Medicate hark back to pastimes in the AFI catalogue, but there’s no need to dwell on them because the band has moved onto yet another chapter of their fantastic career. Take some time to appreciate this.

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