Davey Havok and Jade Puget (you may recognize them from AFI) are back this year with a new Blaqk Audio album. Because the duo is constantly putting out music through multiple outlets, you wouldn't believe it's been 4 years since the last one, but here we are. Material is the Electro-duo's third album, and it may be their most accessible record yet. At times it's a good thing, and sometimes it's its downfall.
Among the multitude of varying tracks is a polarizing record. It ranges anywhere from Synthpop to Electro-Rock. Puget's influence comes from all corners of the spectrum, so there’s no surprise that so many can be heard on the album. In one sense, it can make the album feel sporadic, but it also leaves something for everyone. Odds are you'll find at least one song that meshes with your specific taste of Electronica, while expanding your horizons to others. A track like, "Ceremonial (Burst into Stars)" might be more appealing to fans of Electro-House but may be turned off by the darker tone of "Black at the Center." However, Jade doesn't delve deep enough into the many number of Electro-genres out there to tear away from Blaqk Audio's identity.
At the core of it all, there's no mistaking it as anything other than a Blaqk Audio record thanks to Havok's distinct voice. Davey does try to shake things up though. Over layers upon layers of Jade's beats and synths, Havok experiments with different vocal styles throughout the entire record. Some tracks like album-opener, "Waiting to be Told" and "Curious Friends," bear more of a stoic vocal performance one moment, while the next his voice is hitting highs and radiating with melody. On tracks like, "Graphic Violence" and "Anointed," you'll hear Havok singing in a softer voice that feels like a better fit for Blaqk Audio than the deeper style he tends to go for.
With so much going on between each members' respective duties, what's holding the whole thing together? That would be the lyrical content. While the past two albums have been much more sexually charged, the over-arching theme of Material is darkness and anguish. The album's closing tracks, "Material" and "You Will Hate Me" are very direct and self-aware. Where past work has inspired more dancing -- Material may inspire more cognition. It depends on the person.
So how exactly is this Blaqk Audio's most accessible album yet? Well, it works better as a collection of songs rather than the usual "body-of-work" an album tends to represent. Dance tracks jump out left and right. There are certainly poppier moments than their previous albums. Because there are so many different styles of Electronica on the record, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Casual listeners will be more likely to overlook the lyrics and enjoy the music, but those more heavily invested in Blaqk Audio may be more interested in the lyrics. Fans who may not be familiar with Havok's darker lyrics, especially those that only gravitate towards Blaqk Audio and not AFI, may be a little taken aback. Overall, Material garners strong tracks but is a little wavering and lacks a real flow.
7.0 / 10
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