AFI: Answer That and Stay True to the Punk Spirit You Embodied in Your Early Work

I realized as I was listening to the silence at the end of "High School Football Hero" that I really shouldn't be listening to any AFI albums this early in the game. I just got done with a-ha and A.C. Newman. If you look on the album covers, there are no periods in the name AFI even though we all know it stand for A Fire Inside. I try my darndest to stay true to the spelling of a band's name. I put the period at the end of moe. because the period is officially part of their name. If I were to spell the name of a certain boy band (which I would never do) I would put the asterisk at the beginning of the name because it's officially part of the group's name. There are no periods in AFI (I capitalize AFI only because the number of albums with AFI in caps outnumber those that don't use caps). My itunes lied to me and now I'm listening to AFI in the a-periods instead of the a-f's. But what can ya do? Rant about it and sound like an all-out nerd I guess.

I remember seeing AFI on the 2001 Warped Tour. They were probably the most memorable band of the festival. The thing I remember the most about that show, aside from taking a brutal beating from some fat kid in the mosh pit, was that AFI was wild. Their singer, Davey Havok, looked like the result of a freakish fertility experiment between Robert Smith and Marilyn Manson. He was wearing all black leather in the scorching heat and jumping around like a madman. The music was fast and brutal. Of course it didn't help a tonne that I was getting beaten to a pulp in the mosh pit by a guy who may or may not have been wearing full football pads (everybody hates the guy in the pit who shows up to hurt people, not have a good time. If you're that guy please know that everyone hates you). Aches and pains aside, I loved my first AFI show.

I picked up Answer That and Stay Fashionable after that show and was pretty pleased with my purchase at the time. Little did I know that a great divide was on its way. Depending on who you talk to AFI either sold out in a major way or became legitimate with their 2003 release The Art of Drowning. I personally don't like The Art of Drowning at all. I have given it numerous chances and it never sank in. Before you chalk me up as a hater let me state for the record that I don't think AFI sold out. They evolved. They moved past their body of early work and left people like me in the dust.

With that lengthy and boring exposition out of the way, let's get frank about Answer That and Stay Fashionable. On this album AFI is young and restless. They blow through 14 songs in about a half hour. The songs on this album are fast and hard-hitting. They show a lot more sense of humor than you would think. "I Wanna Get a Mohawk (But Mom Won't Let Me get One)" and "Cereal Wars" show a funny side of AFI you wouldn't expect to see if you were introduced to their later albums first (as many people were).

Answer That and Stay Fashionable isn't a perfect album by any stretch. It rocks hard and it rocks well, but a lot of the songs sound like they could've been written by just about any other band in the genre. "Yürf Rendenmein" and "I Wanna Get a Mohawk" are the best two songs on the album. It isn't a disappointing listen at all, unless you fell in love with Sing the Sorrow first in which case you might find the album a little juvenile. Depending on which side of the AFI divide you find yourself, you'll either enjoy or hate this album. I like it.

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