Self-pity, hopelessness and alienation are the rule. From its bleak opening cut, “Miseria Cantare—The Beginning” (“Love your hate, your faith lost”), this disc trudges along onerously. The singer is tormented and fatalistic (“Bleed Black”), consumed and waiting to be destroyed (“The Leaving Song Pt. II”). He considers symbols of innocence mere fantasy on “This Time Imperfect.” On a similar note, “The Great Disappointment” pines, “Hope was wasting away/ Faith was wasting away/I was wasting away.” F-words punctuate “Death of Seasons,” a self-mourning prophecy of “posthuman extinction” consumed with hate. God’s grace has gone AWOL on “Girl’s Not Grey.” During “Dancing Through Sunday,” listeners are invited to participate in a waltz of torment (“Will you join me in this dance of misery … We have no chance in this horrid romance”). Awash in sorrow, the artist compares himself to puzzle pieces that are lost, don’t fit or just add up to emptiness (“But Home Is Nowhere”). “Paper Airplanes (Makeshift Wings)” finds some comfort in life, but it’s from clinging to a vengeful attitude.
The initials AFI stand for A Fire Inside, which must involve some painful inflammation of the soul. Rolling Stone said, “No wonder AFI’s cult-like following of teenage fans (known as the Despair Faction) feel so much at home: They’ve finally found a safe place to act out their middle-class alienation.” There’s nothing safe about Sing the Sorrow.