Bright Black Heaven is the second studio album from AFI members Davey Havok and Jade Puget's side project Blaqk Audio. Showcasing Havok's moody, passionate croon against Puget's atmospheric keyboard, guitar, and drum program productions, Bright Black Heaven finds the duo working some moody '80s-influenced synth pop into their electronic goth sound. Tracks such as the driving, cinematic "Cold War" and the similarly frenetic dance-pop number "Everybody's Friends" mix pulsing beats and shimmering synth lines with Havok's darkly sensual lyrics.
Even at their punkiest AFI carried traces of ’80s goth-glam worship. Blaqk Audio, Davey Havok and Jade Puget’s electro-pop side project, allows the AFI vocalist and guitarist, respectively, to fully indulge in their mascara-and-eyeliner fantasies, reveling in dark, icy synthesizers. On the duo’s debut, 2007’s CexCells, their slavish devotion to ambient textures or danceable beats often got in the songs’ way, but on their sophomore effort, they relish the hooks, with tracks that could be easily mistaken for Depeche Mode (“With Your Arms Around You”) or Erasure (“Cold War”).
Blaqk Audio’s new LP Bright Black Heaven induces in me some conflicted feelings. On the one hand, this music is profoundly derivative, and aggressively, relentlessly cheesy. This is one of those special records that provokes feelings of sympathetic embarrassment from the listener; I found myself cringing and giggling to myself at vocalist Davey Havok’s ham-fisted, adolescent declarations far more than is healthy.
Ummm... yeah. The ’80s are well and truly alive with Davey Havok and Jade Puget. If you didn’t gather this from their recent AFI efforts, then Blaqk Audio’s ‘Bright Black Heaven’ will seal the deal. Unfortunately, it’s the bit of the ’80s with shit hair and songs comprising vapid ….
This review originally ran in AP 291. The story can now be told: Davey Havok and Jade Puget finished Bright Black Heaven before they completed AFI’s last album, 2009’s Crash Love. Since the duo’s previous album (2007’s Cex Cells) did well, the executives at the major label they were signed to felt consecutive BA discs would somehow affect the band in the marketplace, so it was shelved.