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Blaqk Audio – Bright Black Heaven
Bright Black Heaven - Superball Music
Five years after Davey Havok and Jade Puget gave in to their inner goth and embarked on a slick journey to the beat throbbing world of dark wave and electropop, they return for a much anticipated follow-up. More than ever the duo holds fast to what they’re known for, venturing further down the rabbit hole of club thumping electornica. To be sure, Blaqk Audio has always been a self indulgent Depeche Mode-leaning self-serving outlet for Havok and Puget – a way to separate business and pleasure from their high profile and long running punk act AFI. Bright Black Heaven is that indulgence in its purest form to date.
Now it’s worth mentioming that Blaqk Audio hasn’t changed all that much since their inception, so provided that five years is enough time for fans to be satisfied with more of the same, then Bright Black Heaven will please from the get go. Songs like opener “Cold War” thump along with all the ridiculously catchy snaps of electronic hand claps, synth waves, and soundboard pulses sure to incite your inner rhythm. It’s the type of guilty pleasure that will have you tapping your toes and swinging your arms while you close your eyes and bob your head in time (even you prideful “too cool” types).
The whole affair exists across a variety of energy enhancing tempos stemming any obvious potential for early burn out – especially considering the ten tracks’ forty-eight minute run time. Rhythm heavy mid-tempo numbers like “Say Red” or “The Wittness” plant themselves in a heavy groove, serving as somewhat of a new offering for the band, while tracks like “Fade To White” rattle along like something from a sweaty nightclub. When at their catchiest, songs like lead single “Faith Healer” mix the two with classically catchy chorus links, spreading like a sonic virus, infecting listeners with a near sensory overload. The slick combination of Havok’s siren falsetto and Puget’s mathematically-perfect overlays create one of the best 80’s inspired soundscapes since the decade faded almost thirty years ago. If the band is hunting for a second single, “With Your Arms Around You” is an easy and obvious pick for all of the above reasons coupled with the silence shattering clarity of Puget’s keyboard piano notes.
As per their first album, Bright Black Heaven furthers their scandalous exploration of sexual promiscuity and forbidden love. From the discrete call to “live in fiction” in “Everybody’s Friends,” to the love-to-hate call to revisit failed love in “Let’s Be Honest,” it would be hard to imagine Blaqk Audio straying from what they know. The industrial overtones generate a connection between music and meaning that go hand in hand. Nothing lands too far below the surface, but it lands well nonetheless.
Some people have expressed disappointment with Blaqk Audio for returning to their safe place with their sophomore effort. And while it’s true that Bright Black Heaven is instantly recognizable, it’s also instantly enjoyable and wildly rewarding in repay. If they stay on a half-decade release schedule, I can see no issue with Blaqk Audio’s commitment to the dark arts and hope to hear more in the years ahead.