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AFI - Crash Love Album Cover

AFI - Crash Love

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6.6
AFI - Crash Love
Record Label: Interscope
Release Date: September 29, 2009
It seems to me that there have been two AFIs (well three if you want to be picky, but the less said about the dodgy punk band that released their first few albums the better). The first was the creditable pseudo-goth/punk band that released Black Sails in the Sunset and The Art of Drowning on Nitro Records, and the second was the much more commercial major label beast that produced Sing the Sorrow and Decemebrunderground. If anyone is unsure, Crash Love sits firmly in the latter camp and is in fact even further down the pop-rock road than AFI have ever trodden before. There's nothing inherently wrong with this choice: if a band wants to go in a more commercial direction they shouldn't be crucified because of it. It doesn't necessarily mean they've sold out and the transition from "Clove Smoke Catharsis" to "Medicate" may be a perfectly natural one. However, what is essential is that the quality is there, regardless of what style the band are playing. Sadly, for the large part of Crash Love, this is just not the case.

Anyone who is familiar with Decemberunderground will know what to expect, and while some of the strengths of that album remain, many of its inherent weaknesses are even more glaring. Starting on a positive, Davey Havok's voice is just as delicious as it ever was, potentially justifying alone the huge heart-throb status he seems to have obtained in the past few years. Although certainly far lighter than at the turn of the millennium, it still retains elements of darkness which work well to contrast the poppy style of the album. Additionally, the musicianship of the band is still very solid, and if you're fairly attentive when listening to the album there are chords and hooks embedded in the songs that are much more complex than the majority of pop-rock bands out there. The problem is that these interesting musical elements are deeply hidden under a layer of production so thick and smooth that Dorothy Hamill could have won a gold medal on it. It's a huge shame because throughout their career one thing that AFI have always been is distinct. Up until very recently there was something about them that set them apart. On Crash Love, this just isn't the case. The production drowns out practically all of their individuality, and if it wasn't for Havok's distinctive voice you'd be hard pressed to identify this band as AFI on first listen, even compared to Decemberunderground or Sing the Sorrow.

And then there's the lyrics. Oh dear lord, the lyrics. Davey Havok is now in his 30s, so how exactly are we supposed to take him seriously when he sings lyrics that are so bad a high school student would disown them from his English class efforts at poetry. Lines like "I'd tear out my eyes for you my dear" and "I'd die if you only met my eyes before you passed by" are so horribly trite and cliched that it becomes cringe-worthy. This is the band who wrote "God Called In Sick Today" and these lyrics are the best they can some up with? Not impressive in the slightest. They're not all this bad. Songs like "It Was Mine" and "Darling, I Want to Destroy You" are much more complex and meaningful lyrically but examples like this are too few and far between on this twelve track album.

Thankfully, the album isn't a complete washout. The aforementioned "Darling, I Want to Destroy You" and "Beautiful Thieves" are musically and lyrically far more interesting than the rest of the album, and rank up near "The Days of the Phoenix" in the all time AFI top tracks list. It's just a shame that the excellent ideas on these songs aren't translated to the others. "Medicate" is "Miss Murder" but far less catchy and memorable and "It Was Mine" is a failed attempt to rehash the brilliance that was "Endlessly, She Said" from Decemberunderground. "Sacrilege" is also very interesting as it tackles organized religion as a topic which is potentially far more potent than the love-stricken by-the-numbers efforts that populate most of the album. Again, however, the song is let down by appalling lyrics. Reducing the entirety of something so complex as someone's faith to the line "Is this one big joke? I can only hope" just lacks any recognition of the significance of dealing with such a difficult issue.

But throughout all the failings on this album, there is still hope. Certainly it seems that AFI will never again record an album the likes of The Art of Drowning again. However, the few highlights of this album show that they've not entirely forgotten who they once were, and they retain the ability to imbue songs with an individuality that most bands producing a comparable kind of music lack. "Darling, I Want to Destroy You" and "Beautiful Thieves" show that, when on form, AFI can still produce the goods, and the idea behind "Sacrilege" shows that they still have the scope and vision to aim big, even if their execution has let them down here. However, the simple fact is that Crash Love is not a very good album in the midst of a glut of similar artists producing similar sounds. For AFI to remain relevant in their second incarnation they need to maintain the individuality that once served them so well. Otherwise future albums like Crash Love will get washed away in the tides of an increasingly stagnant pop-rock scene, and AFI will go right along with them.

Recommended If You LikeAFI - Decemberundergorund; Aiden - Conviction; dark pop

myspace.com/afi
This review is a user submitted review from James Ding. You can see all of James Ding's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
08:49 AM on 12/08/09
#2
failedXromance
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not sure how a band that sold out shows and was good enough to release 3 full lengths could be described as dodgy. maybe if the reviewer spent less time thinking about how their AFI is the only true AFI they might like the album more. As it stands though, i have a hard time believing this person really has a grasp on this band when they disown everything that came before what they like out right.
09:58 AM on 12/08/09
#3
circasurvivor
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WOW! What a bad review.Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about
10:37 AM on 12/08/09
#4
failedXromance
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WOW! What a bad review.Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about
yeah, i was half expecting to check their profile and have them be like...14, you know? be like..the art of drowning was the shit when i was 5...best. kids. album. ever.

but, no, they are in their 20's/ oh my.
03:32 AM on 12/09/09
#5
chriscolours
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"Love Your Hate // Your Faith Lost (In this band) " ...
I did not like Decemberubderground after Sing the Soroow (which is my favourite AFI album) but this new CD is the Great Disappointment... i have less and less faith in them.
:(
06:35 AM on 12/09/09
#6
James Ding
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Wow, nice hatred from you guys there.

"not sure how a band that sold out shows and was good enough to release 3 full lengths could be described as dodgy. maybe if the reviewer spent less time thinking about how their AFI is the only true AFI they might like the album more. As it stands though, i have a hard time believing this person really has a grasp on this band when they disown everything that came before what they like out right."

This is MY OPINION of the band. I think the first 3 albums are terrible. I'm sorry you guys clearly have a much better opinion of AFI than me. After all it's not like opinions are subjective. If you disagree with what I think then go write your own one. If you want to criticise at least try to be constructive about it. Don't just say "you're an idiot and don't know what you're talking about" just because I have a different opinion to you.

And in terms of me saying there's only one TRUE AFI I think you'll notice I outright said that wasn't the case, I said this album was poor not because they've changed style from my personal favourite album, but because it's not very good. Maybe if you focussed on something as a whole rather than the one aspect you read in the first line you'd have something useful to say.

"WOW! What a bad review.Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about"

How is it possible to have no idea what I'm talking about? I've listened to every AFI album several times, as well as numerous other artists in practically every genre even vaguely related to the band. Yet again I feel I must remind you that reviews are OPINIONS. Can you point to any actual statement I made that you feel in particular is wrong? Perhaps you think the lyrics I mentioned are actually excellent, or that the production was great? I'm not being sarcastic here, honestly, I just want to know what it is that you find so offensive about the review
06:55 AM on 12/14/09
#7
Chris Collum
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Wow, nice hatred from you guys there.

"not sure how a band that sold out shows and was good enough to release 3 full lengths could be described as dodgy. maybe if the reviewer spent less time thinking about how their AFI is the only true AFI they might like the album more. As it stands though, i have a hard time believing this person really has a grasp on this band when they disown everything that came before what they like out right."

This is MY OPINION of the band. I think the first 3 albums are terrible. I'm sorry you guys clearly have a much better opinion of AFI than me. After all it's not like opinions are subjective. If you disagree with what I think then go write your own one. If you want to criticise at least try to be constructive about it. Don't just say "you're an idiot and don't know what you're talking about" just because I have a different opinion to you.

And in terms of me saying there's only one TRUE AFI I think you'll notice I outright said that wasn't the case, I said this album was poor not because they've changed style from my personal favourite album, but because it's not very good. Maybe if you focussed on something as a whole rather than the one aspect you read in the first line you'd have something useful to say.

"WOW! What a bad review.Whoever wrote this has no idea what they are talking about"

How is it possible to have no idea what I'm talking about? I've listened to every AFI album several times, as well as numerous other artists in practically every genre even vaguely related to the band. Yet again I feel I must remind you that reviews are OPINIONS. Can you point to any actual statement I made that you feel in particular is wrong? Perhaps you think the lyrics I mentioned are actually excellent, or that the production was great? I'm not being sarcastic here, honestly, I just want to know what it is that you find so offensive about the review
Personally, I agree with you (mostly) on the album. I would of knocked all the scores except lyrics and lasting value up about a point...but whatever. One way or another, this is a well-written user review, which is becoming an AP.net rarity.

On another note, the "dodgy punk band" is no favorite of mine either. I'm no great fan of AFI, though. I appreciate most of Art of Drowning, all of Sing the Sorrow, a few other songs here and there, and that's about it.
06:15 PM on 01/28/10
#8
vickasaur_xoxo
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This was the biggest dissapointment of this decade,
possibly this century.
12:32 PM on 04/01/10
#9
dsmbrluv
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This was the biggest dissapointment of this decade,
possibly this century.
I might agree if you were talking about Britney Spears or BrokeNCyde....All of you people that are hating on AFI because they don't sound the way they did 10-15 years ago or even the way they did on Decemberunderground....YOU ALL NEED TO POP YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR ASSES.
12:16 PM on 04/16/10
Mitch Dickard
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I might agree if you were talking about Britney Spears or BrokeNCyde....All of you people that are hating on AFI because they don't sound the way they did 10-15 years ago or even the way they did on Decemberunderground....YOU ALL NEED TO POP YOUR HEADS OUT OF YOUR ASSES.

uhhh what?

yeah people don't like the new sound cuz it's....bland.

i liked old afi cuz NO ONE sounded like that. they were punk and different.... and now i feel that any fucking band on a major label could have written this new album.

get your head out of your ass, no one gives a FUCK about afi anymore. They used to be big and have a huge fan basis, they have distanced and seperated themselves from the majority of their fan base and it's because THEYYYYYY changed their sound.

when you lose your fanbase .....you've done something wrong
10:23 AM on 04/20/10
dsmbrluv
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uhhh what?

yeah people don't like the new sound cuz it's....bland.

i liked old afi cuz NO ONE sounded like that. they were punk and different.... and now i feel that any fucking band on a major label could have written this new album.

get your head out of your ass, no one gives a FUCK about afi anymore. They used to be big and have a huge fan basis, they have distanced and seperated themselves from the majority of their fan base and it's because THEYYYYYY changed their sound.

when you lose your fanbase .....you've done something wrong
Yeah okay...for the record everyone that was making punk music at the same time as AFI all sounded the same!!! It was just a matter of who wrote better lyrics, and that is what has always made AFI different. I doubt anyone could just "come up" with lyrics like the ones on ANY AFI CD. Why? Because it's not just some punk kids writing how mad they are at their parents or wanting to cut and kill themselves. That's the kind of music anyone can write.

And my head was never up my ass. To tell the truth I'm just not that flexible . And if no one "gives a FUCK about AFI anymore" you should tell them to stop selling out shows and selling records. People need to realize that change over time is a normal thing. They didn't just change overnight.

The fact that they still sell tons of records and sell out shows is enough to prove that they have a huge fan base. Besides, all the real fans like all of their music for what it is- because it's good.
Anyhow, I'm through with this discussion because I don't want to argue with someone that won't even use logic in their reasoning...Goodbye.
04:17 PM on 08/30/10
drawakangaroo
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<P>You need to listen to this album several times to fully see the brilliance of it. When I first listened to it, I thought AFI sold out. But, after listening to it about 10 times, I loved it, and it became my 3rd favorite AFI album eventually (for the idiot who said they released 3 full-length album, it was actually 8. Do your research.) Yes, it's very different from Sing the Sorrow and DU, but the elements that make AFI so great are still there. </P>
<P>&nbsp;</P>
<P>First of all, the lyrics are not mostly about love and relationship problems, which the author of this review seems to imply. There are basically 2 meanings to the album: one being a destructive relationship with another person, the other being a criticism to the way society worships celebrities who get to the top not by genuine hard work and passion, but simply by putting out catchy stuff that doesn't take much talent or time. You have to listen to it several times to understand the deeper meaning. Also, Davey has changed his style of lyrics, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. He just wants them to be more straightforward, and straightforward does not equal bad. </P>
<P>&nbsp;</P>
<P>Also, and this is only how I
04:27 PM on 08/30/10
drawakangaroo
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Crap, my whole post didn't post, and the spacing's all wrong. Continuing from where I left off:
Musically and lyrically, the album might seem lyrically and musically simplistic, but if you listen closely, you can see that it's a work of art. Take Veronica Sawyer Smokes. It seems like your average poppy, somewhat cheesy song at first listen. But listen a few more times, and you will realize that the guitar and bass are much more complex. Hunter (the bassist) even said in an interview that he spent a long time trying to get the bass part for this song right, and he had to trick his producer to get the one he wanted. I think that this aspect of the album contributes even more to its overall theme. The theme is that society is being fed catchy but meaningless music (though it can apply to almost anything in society). The music and lyrics on this album seem simplistic and meaningless, but they are actually full of complexity, talent, and passion, the exact opposite of the message they are trying to send us. This is also proof that AFI has not sold out: they have risked many devout fans who may interpret this music as mainstream and meaningless to release music that they love about something that they strongly believe in. This is what makes AFI genius.
02:16 PM on 09/21/10
EdenInAshes
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"Love Your Hate // Your Faith Lost (In this band) " ...
I did not like Decemberubderground after Sing the Soroow (which is my favourite AFI album) but this new CD is the Great Disappointment... i have less and less faith in them.
:(
I love that reference to miseria. i can only hope that sooner rather than later, afi will pull a metallica and remember who they are and write an album as good as the nitro albums. or at least STS.

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