Review Summary: The Missing Man is an outstanding effort that proves AFI still have so much left to give.
AFI have never shied away from crafting new sounds and that sentiment remains true following the release of their newest EP, The Missing Man
. Wasting no time at all, "Trash Bat" kicks everything off with an energetic drum fill and a brisk pace that never truly relents. An erratic instrumentation gives this fleeting song a gleefully unstable sensation and the chorus is as addictive as it is exciting. "Get Dark" joins the opener as the only other track on this release that could be considered upbeat. With a devilishly catchy chorus and a vigorous guitar solo, it's easy to see why this track was chosen as the lead single.
Moving away from the livelier sounds on display here, "Back Into The Sun" brings everything down to a somber and introspective mood. The nostalgic atmosphere it creates would not be out of place within the discography of bands like the Pixies or Smashing Pumpkins. The lyrics are suitably melancholic but not overbearingly so. The same could also be said of the title track, "The Missing Man", which is unlike anything that AFI have ever produced before. Davey Havok's poignant vocal delivery shines upon what is already a remarkable achievement for AFI.
Every member of the band gets their moment in the moonlight on this EP. From Adam Carson's excellent drum work on tracks like "Trash Bat" and "Break Angels", to Hunter Burgan's reverberating bass lines on "Get Dark", and to Jade Puget's haunting guitar work on the title track as well as the aforementioned "Break Angels". A song that sits nebulously between the bright and the bleak found elsewhere on this release. It is a song that also contains a soaring chorus which stands as a highlight among an already luminous collection of music.
Everything is held together by Jade Puget's production which is simultaneously raw and playful. There's a lot of intriguing experimentation to be found within Jade's songwriting as well. Fans of AFI's older material however, will be elated to hear plenty of call and response and gang vocals throughout these tracks, which will undoubtedly translate well to a live setting. This is AFI in top form. The Missing Man
has the capacity to be both joyous and contemplative. To inspire warm exhilaration and cold detachment. Most importantly, it shows that AFI still have so much left to give after all of these years.