by Borax USER (1 Reviews)
June 11th, 2021 | 6 replies

Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: AFI needs an outside producer.

I like AFI's Bodies.

It's their 11th studio album and after 30 years as a band they've honed their craft, but maybe too well in some respects.

Let me explain.

After 2013's Burials, an album hailed by many as a "return to form", AFI's songs became consistently formulaic: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, end. I'm sure there are exceptions to this but this observation proves true for most of their recent output. Even such a stellar song as "Dulceria" from Bodies, which I would put among their best work, follows this formula.

Since their guitarist Jade Puget has taken over production duties this trend has become apparent.

My theory is that after the blockbuster that was Decemberunderground, they followed up in suit with Crash Love (sparing no expense) -- which flopped. They scaled back on Burials but realized soon after that they can save money by having Jade produce.

I believe this ability to evolve from a musical and business perspective is an asset that has set them apart from other acts that achieved stardom in the late 2000s.

But when I listen to "No Eyes" from Bodies, a song that exemplifies AFI's strengths, and then listen to "This Celluloid Dream" from Sing the Sorrow, I draw the conclusion that AFI needs that third party to challenge their songwriting.

The former has all the stalwarts of a classic AFI song: an anthemic, sing-a-long chorus, emotional lyrics, melodic guitar parts and an aggressive rhythm section. It fizzles out though, following the same formula I outlined above. The latter song has variability, throwing curve balls at the listener, musical sections I wouldn't expect.

In some ways Bodies feels like a logical follow up to 2017's Blood - if that album was The Cure, then this one is Depeche Mode.

And I like it, but I know what their potential is, and maybe my preferences lie in the guitar driven, fast, aggressive music they won hearts over playing. This opinion has probably been expressed after every new album they've ever made.

Maybe they feel that they've worn out that style and maybe they're challenging me. If nothing else, I didn't know what to expect with this record, and that's better than absolute predictability.

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June 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.5

This is basically what I'm feeling, though I scored it a bit higher. I was debating settling on a 3, but I'm a fanboy - what can I say. I kind of agree that relying on Jade for production might be holding them back from greater things. I also think Jade might be unwilling to call out Davey when he's making a poor vocal decision, where a third party would be much more willing to call AFI out on poor decisions. So much of the vocal delivery here is so dry. Davey delivered on the Missing Man EP a lot more than he did here.

Other criticism is that some of these songs are way too short, and go nowhere interesting, even if for that short amount of time they bop. I just feel something is wrong when during my first listen I was thinking of ways I could improve these songs. Something I'm not usually doing when listening to music.

June 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

that's weird FadedSun, i'm like always thinking of how songs can improve lol. there's something here. a framework, if you will, that can be fleshed out far beyond what the product ended up being. I really think all of these with some subtle changes could have easily made this their best work

Interesting you bring up Jade's production holding the songwriting back. i've never thought of that but yeah, having another party really sounds like it would help them. I didn't love love Burials at release time but perhaps why it's grown so heavily on me is because I rarely think of any of those songs not feeling fleshed out.

also, not to nitpick the review, but i don't like the verse chorus verse etc. structure complaint, or at least the way you phrase it. it's the formula that most artists use for the majority of their songs so it's hard to inherently use it as a criticism. 9/10 times I think going for more intricate structures is a good thing/make songs more interesting but that's just music across the board/hardly an AFI fault since that's what they've been doing. it's rare when they don't (Death of Seasons, Escape From LA, Now The World, Porphyria, etc), but even in those examples it's really just opting for an outro over a return to the chorus. expecting them to do something that much more different is just setting yourself up for disappointment. but at the same time, yes i would seriously love them to mix it up.

Good points though overall! I like the No Eyes/This Celluloid Dream comparison because honestly what separates them is the difference between a great song and a top tier song with This Celluloid Dream being a consistent top 5 song of all time for me

June 12th 2021


Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks for the constructive criticism Grey, I think the thing that I really don't like is the lack of imagination in the bridges -- you're right, most artists follow basically this formula, but think back to some of AFI's earlier songs: Bleed Black comes to mind for me specifically. That song has an acoustic waltz section for a bridge.

It just seems like they are going with the first or second idea they come up with, and the fact that those are good enough is testament to their musicianship, but I would really like to hear a challenge to that.

June 12th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, their bridges used to be HUGE. there are still hints of greatness here. I like how brooding Davey sounds in the Tied To A Tree bridge, i just wish it went somewhere.

I think they challenged themselves here in terms of different ideas for the most part. like i'm glad songs like Dulceria, Back From The Flesh, Tied To A Tree, and Death of The Party exist. they're cool for them, but yes, more can be done with these ideas

June 12th 2021


No more B albums AFI it's confusing

June 15th 2021


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

This is an interesting take and I like it. Bringing in an outside perspective to production might help them out a bit and lead to another release like CL, DU and even Burials. Blood and Bodies have just left me wanting something more.

With that said here’s another take: the Missing Man ep rips and I am starting to think maybe they need more concise/focused efforts like that as opposed to their past 3 somewhat neutered full lengths.

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