Make AFI Great Again.
‘Get Dark‘ has a bit of everything for AFI fans – old and new. There are those darker, gothic moods heard in the guitar riffs and Davey Havok’s vocal performances; there’s that rawish, semi-old-school punk rock energy found within; the song; and there’s that knack for poppier rock hooks from the group’s more recent material. There’s even a short, faster-paced guitar solo from guitarist Jade Pudget as well; an element that hasn’t really been heard in many AFI songs of late.
However, as a life-long fan of this band, this new song is extremely disappointing. See, it spreads its hand far too thin in tracing over all of these past ideas, like it’s desperately trying to appease to the most general common denominator of their fan base. Yet in that process, nothing actually sticks to the wall. At face value, this is just more AFI. Going deeper, you realize how uninspired it is. And that’s something I’ve never wanted to describe one of my favourite group as. But here I am, and man, that genuinely upsets me. Also, at just two-and-a-half minutes long, ‘Get Dark‘ doesn’t stick around long enough to be that gripping or that impactful either.
While indeed “punk rock” due to Hunter Burgan’s bass grooves and Adam Carson’s drumming, ‘Get Dark‘ doesn’t have the same brilliant level of high-energy songwriting as ‘Black Sails In The Sunset‘ or ‘Sing The Sorrow‘ had. It doesn’t have the same kind of deliciously sweet melodic hooks and memorable choruses that ‘Crash Love‘ and ‘Burials‘ offered up so well. And it doesn’t have the dynamic experimentation and adventurousness that most of the ‘Decemberunderground‘ songs gloriously displayed either. Much like most of their 2017 self-titled LP, it’s trying to have all of this but fails. I know that it’s in poor taste to only focus on what something isn’t rather than what it is, but that’s because there’s very little actually here to talk about.
This is a straight shot down the middle of the road to appeal to the widest AFI fan demographic possible. This is simply just the band trying to be a stripped-back, “authentic” rock band but not offering anything new, interesting or substantial. In doing so, I’m left completely indifferent towards the bland songwriting, uncomplex sounds and underwhelmingly flat production of ‘Get Dark‘. (I totally get that the band were going for that mid-point between slick polish and raw recordings, but the song just feels so muted as a result). As I’ve loved so many of AFI’s records over the years and spoke highly of their last Australian tour, I hate feeling this way and I do wish I enjoyed this more, but I don’t. And that’s the honest truth of the matter. AFI has always been straight-up with their audiences over the years, so I feel that should be the same in reverse.
‘Get Dark‘ comes off the band’s newest EP, ‘The Missing Man‘, which arrives December 7th. Fingers crossed that the rest of this new EP (and whatever forthcoming LP follows said release in 2019) is infinitely better than this.