The band most known for the emo pop song "Miss Murder" may not be the first group that comes to mind when thinking of lyrical prowess, but underneath the eyeliner AFI has a secret: they write great songs. Some of their best offerings aren't anthemic, bass-driven romps, but instead touch on a softer and darker side of the group that has appealed to their biggest fans since their underground days. The following 5 songs are some of the band's best from throughout their genre-jumping career.
"The Conductor" was released on 2013's Burials, and marked a turn back to the more gothic for AFI. Using a philosophical comparison of electricity to the energy of love, the group crafts an energetic yet harrowing song here. "The Conductor" helps prove that AFI could still write a masterpiece well into the 2010s, using their maturity as their guide.
"Bleed in to black clouds
And I will lick them clean
Turn to a tourniquet
And cinch yourself to me"
One of AFI's best love songs, "Silver and Cold" was one of the band's first to turn them into the mainstream light, charting on Billboard after its release as the third single from 2002's Sing the Sorrow. Alongside a haunting music video that made the rounds on Fuse back in the day, the lyrics envelop listeners through Havok's melodic voice.
"I... I came here by day, but I left here in darkness
And found you, found you on the way
And now, it is silver and silent, it is silver and cold
You, in somber resplendence, I hold"
Coming in on 2000's The Art of Drowning, "Days of the Phoenix" is an emblem of the cusp AFI stood on in that era, balancing between punk and alternative rock. "Days of the Phoenix" leads listeners on a journey through the dreams of a troubled soul, recounting his fantasy for his lover back home.
"The words were as mystical as purring animals
The circle of rage
The ghosts on the stage appeared
The time was so tangible, I'll never let it go
Ghost stories handed down, reached secret tunnels below
No one could see me"
"But Home Is Nowhere" is a song so great that it's hard to choose just one portion of lyrics as the best. Here AFI have crafted a track that details the frustration felt by nearly every twenty-something as they question the state of their life. Presented as a story about an actor who's play was changed out from under him, the song actually captures acutely the feeling that a young person has in a changing world: "the pieces are lost / these pieces don't fit" couldn't ring more true.
"Twenty-six years end, still speaking in these tongues
Such revelations while understood by no one
When the new actor stole the show, who questioned his grace?
Please clear the house of ill-acquired taste"
From AFI's Black Sails in the Sunset, "God Called In Sick Today" reads almost like a classic poem. The entire song is beautifully written, taking the band on a turn for the tender. Such witty lines as "omnipotence nurturing malevolence" reveals just how much frontman Davey Havok had come into his own as a singer/songwriter by the time of this album in 1999. If this song doesn't leave you wanting to go pick up a Victorian romance novel after hearing it, nothing will.
"Let's admire the pattern forming
I'm caught in the twisting of the vine
Go ascend with ivy, climbing
Ignore and leave for me the headstone crumbling behind. I can't help my laughter as she cries"