Blaqk Audio
Only Things We Love


3.8
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
March 16th, 2019 | 52 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dance the sorrow

If you told me a year ago that AFI frontman Davey Havok had an electronic side project called Blaqk Audio, I most likely would have avoided it at all costs. AFI’s best days are behind them, so there’s little promise in the idea of everyone’s favorite tatted-up emo guy getting his bleeps and bloops on in his mid-40s. However, as with some things that sound truly awful, it somehow, some way defies logic and actually sounds good. I guess I should be glad I discovered this album by accident, because in all the cosmos and alternate dimensions in existence, it’s probably the only pathway that would have led to me writing about this album.

Only Things We Love is an album filled to the brim with industrial-pop bangers, applying catchy grooves and gritty bass to Havok’s pop circa Crash Love melodies, all while electronic dance vibes blast away in the background. It maintains the darker edge that has always defined AFI, yet somehow manages to sound peppy and enjoyable all the way through. There’s an interesting conflict of tones that exist between Havok’s morbid voice and music that sounds like it could have been applied to Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, a contrast that could have been either laughably bad or surprisingly good, but not really anything in between. In a sense, that’s what we do witness on Only Things We Love – it’s pretty much only things one could love or hate, with the lever tipping heavily in favor of the former.

Blaqk Audio’s fourth studio album is at its best when Havok and Puget (AFI’s guitarist, who works with Davey here) go full-blown eccentric, following their whims to the furthest corners of why would you even try that territory – because for whatever reason, this project can pull off ridiculous better than most. ‘Muscle and Matter’ comes to mind, thumping along to a heavy stomp beat and wildly untamed synths atop a melody that vaguely recalls something Tears for Fears might have written in the mid-80s. It sounds off the charts, and it works because of how ambitious it is. Tracks like ‘Infinite Skin’, ‘The Viles’, and ‘Unstained’ all achieve success for similar reasons, employing everything from blast beats to glitchy, alarm-clock-styled electronic effects. Nothing feels out of the question which is Only Things We Love’s greatest asset.

Across twelve tracks, Havok and Puget become a little overly absorbed in their approach (nearly every song has a huge, danceable groove), which results in some diminishing returns across the album’s back half. However, it also opens the door for ‘Summer’s Out Of Sight’, a breath of punky, poppy fresh air that already feels like it’s ready to hit the road with you this summer featuring an upbeat pace, hook-laden melody, and wistful, nostalgic lyrics to shout along to. This is an album that might be best digested in smaller doses, in order to avoid the feeling that all these songs sort of just wash each other out – but there’s no denying that Blaqk Audio have stumbled onto something really entertaining here, which isn’t something you’d expect from the guys who once recorded Sing the Sorrow. Relax your muscles a bit and give Blaqk Audio a chance; after all, I’d rather hear Havok sounding rejuvenated and fresh while writing industrial/electronic dance-pop than have another overwrought Blood Album on our hands, where he sings about wishing he were dead for the fiftieth time.



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user ratings (33)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
March 16th 2019


30185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

This surprised me so I wrote a quick informal little thing about it. Enjoy.

Digging: Glen Hansard - This Wild Willing

nightbringer
March 16th 2019


268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yes! Really fun record and glad this will now get some exposure.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 16th 2019


30185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I wasn't slated to review this but I just really wanted (1) to draw a little extra attention to this and (2) to have a place to talk about it.

Nikkolae
March 16th 2019


5427 Comments


first impressions are good

Digging: Hopesfall - The Satellite Years

LightChaotic
March 16th 2019


188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm in love with all of the fantastic mid-tempo songs on this album. Muscle And Matter, Caroline In The Clip, Maker, Dark Arcades, and Matrimony And Dust. This album feels like a mix of the atmosphere found on CexCells and the technical proficiency found on Material. Which might make it my favorite Blaqk Audio album yet.



"We will be fiiiiine, my Caroliiiiine!"

Rawrz
March 17th 2019


179 Comments


Always really liked Blaqk Audio. Glad to bear this is great.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 17th 2019


30185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I actually laughed out loud when I first heard Davey's voice cut in on the opening track because I had no idea AFI was involved with this. My discovery of this album was literally random perusing, and when I clicked play on 'Infinite Skin' and heard his morose little voice humming over all the electronics and industrial beats I was convinced it'd be the easiest 1 I handed out in some time. But then as the song kept going, I was like "wtf is this actually good?" - and that reaction just kept snowballing with every song until I admitted to myself that it was a really fun album.

nightbringer
March 17th 2019


268 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol. Surprised you had such low hopes for this. The electronic songs were the best on Decemberunderground.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 17th 2019


30185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I suppose. This is waaay more electronic/industrial than decemberunderground was. Also this album is really upbeat, almost peppy, which definitely took getting used to.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 17th 2019


24500 Comments


I could see how hearing this band for the first time without realizing who was involved would be pretty amusing lol

thought “Snuff In Digital” was a jam back in the day. Not feeling this much so far but might have to be in the mood for it

ItsTheSquirrel
March 17th 2019


214 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

My favourite tracks feom DU were actually Killing Lights and Miss Murder neither of which is particularly electronic, but this is decent

artiswar
March 17th 2019


7256 Comments


I dedicated today to finally get into this band and nope, I can safely say I can't enjoy a single thing this band has done. I'll stick to AFI.

SowingSeason
Moderator
March 17th 2019


30185 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Could definitely see this not being for everyone. It goes hard in one direction (industrialized electro-pop), and if that ain't your thing, then this is gonna be a rough listen.



I love it.

GreyShadow
March 17th 2019


3001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

check their debut for sure, it's still their best work. this album is by far their most cohesive though. Dark Arcades is my favorite but I love almost all of these tracks.

Digging: La Dispute - Panorama

Sconza
March 17th 2019


296 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Surprised this is as good as it is. Loved their first two despite them being pretty inconsistent quality-wise, and I never got into Material.



Listening to this and the Dreamcar album, Davey definitely sounds like he's more invested and having a lot more fun in these projects than he has been with AFI lately.

GreyShadow
March 17th 2019


3001 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this is definitely better than Material despite that album really growing on me.



Cexcells has their highest highs by far. Bitter For Sweet, Snuff on Digital, Again, Again, and Again, Stiff Kittens, Wake Up..., Semiotic Love, and of course Stiff Kittens are all flawless in my book.

SweeneyTodd
March 17th 2019


2149 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

OK ALEX OK ALEX OK

LightChaotic
March 17th 2019


188 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"Listening to this and the Dreamcar album, Davey definitely sounds like he's more invested and having a lot more fun in these projects than he has been with AFI lately."



Have you heard Trash Bat? lol... I know what you're saying though. I think Davey takes AFI more seriously because that's always been his outlet for anger, sadness, etc. With Blaqk Audio and Dreamcar he probably feels like he can explore other emotions. Though I would argue that his lyrics are always painted with some darker undertones. But that contrast between his lyrics and the more upbeat instrumentals found on Blaqk Audio and Dreamcar is what makes those projects standout. I think there's a lot of catharsis in that formula.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2019


15464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't like Dreamcar at all but I 'm surprised how solid and fun this is.

Digging: Ioanna Gika - Thalassa

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
March 18th 2019


15464 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ugh Unstained reminded me why I didn't like Dreamcar. Like the review says, this works when they go full banger industrial pump. When they deflate it sounds so... flat.



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