Deep within the coolest goth club that never was, prolific duo Blaqk Audio finally overshadow their day jobs in long-standing punk act AFI, pushing them beyond side-project status with their most focused effort to date, the stunning Trop d'amour. As great as their past albums have been, this tightly executed sixth effort doesn't sound like the electro-goth outlet for a pair of scene veterans, but a confidently contained vision that honors its influences and fearlessly modernizes a nostalgic, '80s style. Benefitting from equal parts restraint and intent, the set maintains a core sound that balances the icy synths and persistent beats of Jade Puget with vocalist Davey Havok's evocative lyrics and yearning delivery. Together, they patiently carry listeners from the shadowy corners of pensive, lovelorn introspection straight onto the neon-splashed dancefloor, echoing forebears like Depeche Mode, Erasure, and Pet Shop Boys. That dark synth pop soul elevates livelier cuts such as the sexy "Blue Cherry" and the swirling, near-techno of "Sharp Teeth" and "Stormbringer," while the sensual throb of "Softbitten" and "EDZ" hypnotizes and seduces. Additional highlights include the pulsing earworm "Absolute Scenes," which bounces and clatters its way to a soaring close that'll leave listeners breathless, and the yearning "Cowboy Nights," a wounded confessional that finds Havok bleeding poetic lines like, "In luxury's hours with looks libertine/I couldn't give you what you couldn't give me." Witnessing the evolution from the cold EBM of their first two records through the trio of frenzied new wave and dance standouts that transitioned them from the late 2010s and into the 2020s, the shimmering Trop d'amour is a revelation that finds all the pieces coming together with a stylish, gorgeous effect.
Trop d'amour Review
by Neil Z. Yeung