AFI side project Blaqk Audio returns with a fresh batch of electronic tunes. ‘Material’ sees Davey Havok and Jade Puget follow up their well-liked 2012 album ‘Bright Black Heaven’ with the same dressed-up style, the same darkwave spark and the same electronic basis.
If it’s not broken, why fix it? People still clamour for the excessive nightclub approach that has continuously been done by the duo, and they’re still doing a steady job of it. Sure, there’s very little progression, but was progression really to be expected?
It’s fairly easy to flick on ‘First to Love’ and then one or two of the earlier numbers of ‘Bright Black Heaven’ and get a similar vibe, and those who consider the duo or their genre’s primary qualities to be quite alien might not be able to distinguish much between the two albums. Each song is either meant to be a banger or a slight electronic experiment – emphasise the word ‘slight’. Nothing on ‘Material’ is particularly far out and songs like ‘Anointed’ and ‘Black at the Center’ aren’t too dissimilar songs we’ve heard before. And hey, look at ‘Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)’, while it might be the most memorable song on the album, that might be because it sounds like it’s ripped straight from a dance compilattion of some sort.
‘Material’ is a fitting title; it’s essentially Blaqk Audio’s core sound revering itself constantly, and as mentioned, while some might get sick of this, a few of the songs themselves do their job, but it does seem like that’s all they’re doing.
There are a few darker tracks, and a few cool, sparkly-chorused tracks that have dark, dreary verses. That would be Davey Havok’s attempt at journeying back to those twisted, weird dark synth influences. This isn’t executed badly at all, especially on the verses of ‘Curious Friends’, and the chorus of the song is reasonably catchy. So, there is a bit of life in some of the ideas…a bit. The catchiest moment of ‘Material’ might be the main recurring instrumental of ‘Graphic Violence’, however, the mixing is a tad flawed and the vocals can be compared to ditchwater.
There aren’t enough new, bright sparks on ‘Material’. While most of the execution is fine and a lot of the synths are colourful, the album just isn’t thrilling enough on its own merit.
‘Material’ is out now via Blaqknoise/Kabalt Records.
This Blaqk Audio article was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Samantha Melrose.