On the heels of AFI’s “The Missing Man” EP, arrives the long-anticipated fourth album from Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok and Jade Puget’s outlet for their love of electronic music.
Only Things We Love explores subgenres this duo have yet to fully dive into in their previous releases. Upon the first few listens, the different styles seem almost too eclectic to flow together. Yet, you want to listen to it again. And then another time. Eventually, each song, each kind of pop and dance music, find their rhythm as a cohesive piece.
“Infinite Skin” dives right into the 80s synth pop sound Blaqk Audio is known for. This track is the perfect way to set the scene for the record. Immediately you want to start moving. While Taylor Swift has blank spaces on her list, Havok isn’t afraid to keep adding to his as he sings “I’ve got a growing, got a growing list and the names to kill are the same to kiss, and if you looked at me, you’ll make it.” Arguably, it seems a little easier to make his list, but it’s connotations are inherently darker. At first it’s easy to miss how this record could be construed as such in comparison to its three predecessors. Puget’s composition and production provide an excellent juxtaposition to Havok’s morose lyrics.
The best opposition between an upbeat, happy musical backdrop and dark lyrics is showcased in “Summer’s Out of Sight.” Musically and melodically, you could easily find it in a montage for a coming of age film (circa the early 2000s) or picture yourself blasting it on one of those late night summer drives with your best friends. However, when you really pay attention to the lyrics, particularly in the chorus, you can feel that ache in your chest: “Face it that I can no longer face you. Feels like the rain, when summer’s out of sight.” Havok’s bleak sentiments are part of why so many loyal fans keep coming back record after record. On the other hand, Puget is sonically pushing the envelope as this song sounds unlike anything they have ever released.
Songs such as “Maker,” “Muscle and Matter,” and “Dark Arcades” sit comfortably under the umbrella of electro and synth pop. Generally, these are the typical styles you could expect from a Blaqk Audio record. The strongest tracks from Only Things We Love – “The Viles,” “Enemies Forever,” and “Dark Times at the Berlin Wall” – are swimming in the previously uncharted waters of industrial and EBM (electronic body music). The energy is fast-paced, the mood is edgy and intense. As the band comfortably carves out their little corner of the world of electronic music, it’s refreshing to hear this prolific pair going in a new direction and executing it flawlessly.
It doesn’t matter how you classify what Blaqk Audio sounds like or how many subgenres you say infiltrate this record. This band is in a league of their own producing top notch quality work. The growth in both Havok and Puget’s artistry is obvious as they have combined seemingly unrelated elements to form an alchemical album. If you aren’t moved to dance, then we must not have listened to the same record.
Dark Times at the Berlin Wall
Review by Leah Dickerman