With over 25 years as a group, AFI could be forgiven if they were to rely on a formula or favouring a particular sound, but the quartet immerse themselves in an array of sounds and themes.
With their eleventh full-length, ‘Bodies’, AFI continue to evolve their sound towards a more modern and mature soundscape whilst still containing their unmistakable sound. A balancing act that can go either way, openers ‘Twisted Tongues’ and ‘Far Too Near’ hit the mark from the get go.
Whilst ‘Twisted Tongues’ plays with polished goth punk and echoes of new romanticism, it also injects elements of shoegaze to offset the hook driven chorus before giving way to the snappy and stadium ready ‘Far Too Near’. Closer to the band’s mid-career sound, it would sound equally at home on a record like ‘Black Sails In The Sunset’ as it does on ‘Bodies’.
The same can be said for the galloping ‘On Your Back’ and the bass driven ‘Begging For Trouble’, with both taking the core elements of punk rock and skewering themselves with new wave and lush synths to create a refreshing take on their blend of punk and electronica. As shown on past records like 2017’s ‘AFI (The Blood Album)’ and even 2006’s ‘Decemberunderground’, AFI continue to create challenging iterations of punk rock, whether it’s the creeping ‘Back From The Flesh’ or stomping ‘Looking Tragic’, the quartet uncover new elements to their broad soundscape.
Whilst ‘Bodies’ isn’t a perfect record, with ‘Dulcería’ and ‘Escape From Los Angeles’ both falling to the wayside a little bit, AFI have still created an album that not only stays current but doesn’t feel forced. Granted, fans of the group do expect elements of experimentation and curveballs, but the balladry of closing track ‘Tied To A Tree’ still comes out of nowhere.
Haunting, deliberate, and sweeping, ‘Tied To A Tree’ works with elements more at home with cinematic soundtracks to support the croon of Davey Havok‘s vocals. A slow burning track, the bursts of driving distortion and lingering vocals drive it towards an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion.
With ‘Bodies’, AFI continue to explore and experiment as they build on their stellar catalogue and avoid becoming caricatures of themselves.