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.