A lot has happened in the world in the three years since glammy punks AFI last released an album: ongoing war, economic meltdown, new leaders. But you'd never know it by listening to the Bay Area drama queens' eighth album, Crash Love, where it's all AFI, all the time. Frontman Davey Havok takes the breakups he sings about here (the album's dozen songs are all about relationship hell) and blows them up into life-threatening circumstances.
The music buzzes and swirls around Havok, swathing him like a comforting blanket. But there's no consoling the tumultuous couple at the center of Crash Love. "When I blinked, you turned away to kiss the hand of filth," Havok sings on the charging "Cold Hands." On "Okay, I Feel Better Now," he gravely intones, "Show your wounds/I'm bored with mine." "Darling, I Want to Destroy You" speaks for itself. Still, there are plenty of musical sparks flashing from all this misery. Good thing — you need them to see through the darkness. — Michael Gallucci