Riding a wave of productivity that resulted in a pair of AFI efforts and an additional Havok-fronted side project materializing in the short three-year gap between Blaqk Audio albums, the prolific duo of Davey Havok and Jade Puget maintain that creative momentum with Only Things We Love, their electronic side project's fourth set. Returning the goth-punks to the shadowy world of '80s synth pop, new wave, and polished EBM-lite, Only Things We Love taps into a deep well of influences who include Depeche Mode, Ultravox, OMD, Erasure, and Nitzer Ebb. Less precious and wide-eyed than on 2016's Material, Havok and Puget sharpened their attack and tightened their delivery for the album, resulting in an aggressive yet alluring peak in their catalog. Standouts abound, including the deviously catchy lead single "The Viles," a pounding ode to the outcast that blends Nitzer Ebb with New Order; the frantic techno-raver "Dark Times at the Berlin Wall"; and the brooding "Caroline in the Clip," which, when stripped of the synths, could almost be an AFI song. Similarly, the shimmering "Summer's Out of Sight" pogo-bounces to life like a pop-punk anthem from the early 2000s. For tastes of (relatively) bright synth pop in that OMD or Erasure vein, Blaqk Audio offers "Muscle and Matter," "Maker," "Dark Arcades," and "Matrimony and Dust," while "OK Alex" and "Infinite Skin" ramp up the tension and anxiety without losing sight of the dancefloor. Considering that the pair collectively juggles two other high-profile bands, it's a wonder that an album this good was also crafted in the same period. Without taking a breath or leaving room to rest, Only Things We Love throbs and pulses its way through the shadows, a hook-heavy romp for dance-loving misfits.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung