AFI‘s Davey Havok and Jade Puget‘s side-project Blaqk Audio is one that continues to defy what you’d expect members of an emo band to produce. Yet, on their newest record, ‘Only Thing We Love’, the blushing electronica isn’t totally selling itself.
It’s not completely unlikable, and in a lot of places it holds up as an alright electronic record, but the issue lies in its conviction. It feels a bit like an LP that hasn’t had an awful lot of time to blossom. The sound of an electronic record, at least the one attempting to be made here, relies on a much bigger sound than it has. As a result, much of ‘Only Thing We Love’ ends up sounding like one of those typically bad mid-00s emo synth-pop projects that were popular for all of ten minutes.
Tracks like ‘The Viles’, ‘Maker’, and ‘Enemies Forever’ harness swelling Eurotrash techno-synth patterns and bulking, sprawling leads that are so over the top, it’s hard to tell just how seriously you should take them. Even when tinged with clear goth-pop influence as the latter does, it still sounds so out of place, like the rare metal act you get in towards the end of the Eurovision song contest every year. Havok‘s trademark 80s-tinged vocals also quite hammy for the most part (although, that’s not totally his fault, the electronic backing pretty much does that for him).
Yet, it’s not all bad. The moments where the electro-madness is on the down low, and clear AFI influences are melodically blended with pop sensibilities, like ‘Caroline In The Clip’ and ‘Summer’s Out Of Sight’, are some of the best on offer here. ‘Dark Arcades’ feels like the perfect balance between AFI and soft, simmering lucid electronics, and the sort of sound that would’ve made this a far more complete album had more tracks opted for an air of subtly.
Opener ‘Infinite Skin’ and ‘Okay, Alex’ also do a better job of conveying the vibrant electronica that’s the target for the record, with arguably two of the most memorable choruses on offer.
All in all, ‘Only Things We Love’ isn’t a terrible record and is largely a fun break away from the confines of alternative music. It is, however, far from consistent, and whether or not Blaqk Audio have nailed the sound that Havok and Puget are going for is very much still up in the air.
Writer for DEAD PRESS! | Literature undergrad with a love for all things punk | Often found sipping on coffee or craft beer, whilst attempting to write some words.