“AFI’s Davey Havok is back with a tale of death and debauchery in LA, and it’s as fast-paced and frenetic as the city itself.”
Lyricists don’t always make great authors, Morrissey is proof enough of that. Books are not songs, and while flowery declarations and hyperbolic melodrama feel organic when backed with swelling synths and an undeniable melody, the same language can on the page seem a little, well, pretentious.
So maybe it’s no surprise that I went into Davey Havok’s Love Fast Los Angeles sceptical. I am a huge fan of Davey as a lyricist, he has a way of being grandiose and romantic without ever seeming inauthentic, and the worlds he creates in song are whimsical but grounded in a kind of realism that makes them inescapably compelling.
Yet despite this admiration, I never thought to pick up his debut work Pop Kids. YouTuber book fever was in full swing at the time of its release, and I worried his effort would be earnest but fall flat, finding success only because a legion of dedicated fans were determined to defend it to a fault.
Needless to say, I went out and bought Pop Kids yesterday.
Love Fast Los Angeles follows a post-break-up Alvin through the city, as he pursues both friends and foes in a quest to gratify his most base desires. Seeing the city’s best and brightest through the lens of his canon, every moment is directed by one of two fundamental forces: The man he wants to fight, and the woman he wants to fuck.
We tumble through days and nights at a breakneck pace – drug deals and business brunches blurring into suicides and Disneyland trips without giving the reader a chance to catch their breath. The universal truth of fame holds out: everyone is at their most interesting on their way up the ladder or on their way down, and almost no-one in LA seems capable of keeping their fame on an even keel.
The people are fake and the coke is organic, and everyone’s full-time job seems to be denying the decay everywhere around them. We spend almost no time with the characters that most closely resemble humans, the characters that ironically, tend to look the most alien. There are human moments, but they are few and far between, respites that give the audience the courage to plow deeper into the glitter-and-grime sludge of the conflict.
The style of the book will not be to everyone’s taste. We live in Alvin’s head, and for the most part he is profoundly unlikable, a cocktail of narcissism and self-righteousness that slips deeper and deeper into denial as the story progresses. The language reflects this, drowning in colloquialisms and jargon that is at times almost impenetrable, dropping names at a machine gun fire pace.
However, if you let yourself get caught up in the ride, you soon realise this is all deliberate. We are not supposed to revere Al, with his famous friends and constant surface-level babble. We are supposed to be confused and thrown off by the constant torrent of celebrity dramas, by the constantly refreshing Instagram feeds and the never-quiet cell phones.
The world building is impeccable, drawing you into a scene that at first seems glamorous, then breaking down expectations until you’re clamouring to get out. By the time you realise what you’re looking at you’re just as trapped as Alvin himself and, like a car-crash, you find yourself unwilling or unable to tear yourself away.
In short, Love Fast Los Angeles is a sugar rush with no substance to back it up, but in the best possible way. It’s dirty, disillusioned and completely rock and roll, and is as close as you can get to living the celebrity lifestyle without finding yourself irreparably damaged by it.