Published Dec 07, 2018It's hard to be angry at AFI for their latest EP, The Missing Man. As perfunctory as most of the decisions are across these five tracks, a sense of enforced edginess makes this EP a cute and endearing experience. The '90s hardcore punks turned mid-2000s emo icons seem to have created a new genre: Hot Topic dad rock.
The opening track, "Trash Bat," is a case in point. Havok's voice is bland throughout the song, even as he alludes to dark imagery in his lyrics: "Broken deep and empty eyes." Meanwhile, the instrumentation is so compressed that it verges on non-existence. The stakes of the gothic imagery are so low that it can only leave you smiling.
On "Get Dark," AFI try to compel feelings of gloominess, which are immediately dashed away by a guitar solo that's a dad rock tour-de-force. In fact, the song becomes a comical three-minute bricolage; undergirded by a consistent punk rhythm, the bombast of the electric shredding is offset by a moment of quiet acoustic guitar.
Conversely, "Back Into the Sun" could qualify as a decent piece of alt-rock nostalgia. As the dripping, lo-fi guitar and Havok's understated vocals coalesce, the band echoes Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins.
AFI seem to have done the impossible with The Missing Man. Their uniform adherence to edginess ironically creates an almost complete lack of experimentation. In turn, this makes for an extremely endearing, and quite entertaining, listen. One hopes that AFI had their tongues cemented into their cheeks during the recording process. (Ex Noctem Nacimur)