Sound — 9
Two years in the making, AFI's latest record Crash Love has been labeled as more of a rock record from the band members themselves. Although a true statement for the most part, calling Crash Love merely a harder-edged rock record doesn't even broach on the best qualities of the material. In contrast to the previous record Decemberunderground, which placed a great deal of focus on creating an ambient mood, Crash Love is chock full of catchy, hummable tracks in a traditional sense most of which could land on the Billboard charts if they were all released as singles. Making an equally big impact is the immaculately polished sound, which this time around was shaped by producers Joe McGrath and Jacknife Lee. There are inevitable comparisons to bands that pop up while listening to Crash Love, but it never becomes overly distracting. Yes, Too Shy To Scream features a chugging rhythm and guitar line similar to Marilyn Manson's Beautiful People and Veronica Sawyer Smokes channels a poppier version of The Cure, but you come away listening never thinking it was a blatant rip-off. Crash Love certainly hearkens back to a sound more akin to something you'd hear in the 80's or even 90's in some cases, but it's actually a compliment that AFI does not sound exactly like every artist on the scene today. The opening track Torch Song grabs you immediately with the verse's moody, Perfect Circle-ish guitar sound and the larger-than-life chorus that begs for a sing-along. Big, roaring choruses abound on Crash Love, and with the impressive studio quality, those peak moments bring the material to the next level. AFI wisely chose Medicate as their first single, and it's easy to understand why. Featuring a highly memorable, majestic guitar intro and a feast of shouted heys, it is easily one of the biggest standout tracks on Crash Love. The band has a few offerings like Sacrilege that don't match the quality of Medicate or Torch Song, but the slow/mundane moments are far and few between. There is a cohesive feel to all of the songs in any case, and AFI strategically placed It Was Mine as the epic closer. Although more sedate in terms of its tempo, It Was Mine is a beautifully constructed number that features an amazing backing vocal line in the final moments.
Lyrics — 8
Emotions rule supreme on Crash Love, but the passionate melodies lend themselves to the themes. A track like Medicate might not be the most interesting among the bunch (Could I? Could I just find a way? I find you every day; And we could alter time), but there is a good deal of passion injected into most of the tracks that brings the lyrical content to life. If you tend to place bands who sing about emotions/feelings in the emo category (and you consider that a negative connotation), however, you'll probably want to steer clear of this particular album.
Overall Impression — 9
AFI has a loyal group of devotees, and with an album like Crash Love those passions are validated in full. Decemberunderground had a somewhat darker feel and was intriguing in its own way, but in terms of memorable, emotionally-driven material that will connect with a vast audience, Crash Love is a standout. From the impressive guitar tones (Torch Song, OK I Feel Better Now) to the instantly recognizable chorus melodies (I Am Trying Very Hard To Be Here), the 2-year effort put into Crash Love was a successful venture.