It's probably unfair to paint punk/goth/pop stalwarts AFI with the emo brush, since they predate that abomination by almost a decade. However, the similarities they share with bands of that ilk, whom they no doubt influenced to begin with, have certainly been a boon to their career. Take a look at their black-eyelined image and read through their lyrics—noting of course that their fan club is called The Despair Faction—and you'll understand why so many people throw AFI in the emo box.
Songwriting is where this band leaves emo behind. AFI writes tight, catchy pop songs with enough zing to make people want to get up and flail, not sit in the corner and sulk. Singer Davey Havok actually sings too, and does it very well, without ever resorting to the nails-on-chalkboard shriek of other emo vocalists.
Everything about Crash Love, the band's eighth release, is impressive. The songs are strong. The instruments all sound great, and the recording is flawless. Which is the problem if you prefer your (pop punk) rock with some grit. AFI is polished to a bright sheen here, leaving whatever danger they may have retained over the past decade in the Pro Tools deleted folder.
AFI plays the Wilma Theatre Tuesday, Jan. 19, at 8 PM. $28/$25 advance.