Review: Blaqk Audio – Only Things We Love

The sheer amount of content Davy Havok and Jade Puget release is utterly staggering. The fact that each release is near perfect is frightening. Blaqk Audio, the AFI duo’s electronic project, is relentlessly hypnotic. Dance beats, new wave melodies and Havok’s signature melancholy blend to create a sound that feels as familiar as it is unique. Only Things We Love isn’t the group’s best release, but it’s so close it may as well be.

You can buy or stream Only Things We Love on Apple Music.

It’s hard to peg the meaning behind Blaqk Audio’s albums (or AFI’s, for that matter) due to Havok’s ambiguous writing style. The concepts behind Blaqk Audio releases tend to be far more romantic than any of Havok’s other projects. As such, Only Things We Love is about conquering the anger of youth that prevents us from loving someone else… or it’s about the confessions of a serial killer?

Havok’s vocals are again a demonstration of why he may be the best singer currently active. Decidedly different from the screams and crooning of AFI, Havok’s voice is poignantly drenched in new wave sensationalism. Utterly relaxed, he shifts comfortably between soft verses to energetic, rampant choruses. Powerful inflections in tone give his performance a superb edge that puts Only Things We Love as yet another highlight of Havok’s sensational voice (“Dark Times At the Berlin Wall”).

Puget’s arrangements are among Blaqk Audio’s best. The industrial electronic beats are deep, commanding and pulsing. The best part about Puget’s dance music is that it finds a perfect blend with modern electronica, detailed new wave melody and the corny catchiness of Dance Dance Revolution’s heyday (“Matrimony and Dust”). The downside is that Puget has used many similar synth tones for the last few records. Despite improvements from album to album, there is an argument that the underlying music for each Blaqk Audio release doesn’t do nearly enough to distinguish itself from any past album.

Despite Havok’s best descriptions of gore, such as on opening track “Infinite Skin” (“Blood on the corner / Love on a dead end street / You heard them warn her, when you first heard of me”), Only Things We Love is an album about lost love and learning to forgive. Lead single “The Viles” describes the pain of the aftermath of a break up against Puget’s pulsing synth. Havok pointedly shouts, “Day may break me. Daylight like she, like she burns / Through five nights when all is not right / And again, we meet here”.

Not all is as dark, as songs like “Summer’s Out of Sight” describe the memory of a relationship at the height of passion. Puget’s melodic bass lines and twinkling keyboards shine beneath Havok’s hopeful verses (“I had to crawl the halls to ask when we might meet before you left / You said, ‘Maybe tomorrow or never again’ / But you said, ‘Right now I’m yours’) and the devastated chorus (“Hearing you leave out my name makes me want you / You personalize pain”).

For an album relishing the sound of 80’s new wave electronica, nothing personifies it more than closing tack “Matrimony & Dust”. An elegant homage of 80’s cliches, the song finds the characters meeting again to finally move on to healthier relationships. The sincere tenderness of Havok’s voice as he croons, “And would you believe, somehow, that I am married now?” is astonishing, considering he’s a singer who became famous for throat-shredding screams and skate punk shouting.

Only Things We Love is a bitter album, but not without purpose. In what might be the biggest surprise from Havok, there’s hope in the darkness. The album is humane, carries a sincere resolution and stays true to the era that inspired it. It straddles a fine line between being Blaqk Audio’s most brutal and sweetest album. Fans of the band will find exactly what they expect, and newcomers will find what might be the single most accessible album Havok and Puget have ever written.


by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is typing blindly right now while the cat sits in front of his monitor. Her judgemental gaze is not unlike that of a giant squid.

Reflecting On: Saves The Day – In Reverie

In the early 2000’s, Saves The Day were the poster child of the emo scene. Stay What You Are had set the scene on fire early into the new millennium. With expectations high, In Reverie defied them in every possible way. And fans hated it. Singer Chris Conley’s new, high pitch vocals caught everyone off guard. The dreamy lyrics were a far stretch from the desperate lyricism of the band’s past records. Fifteen years later, In Reverie is held in much higher regard within Saves The Day’s body of work, and, unfortunately, largely forgotten.

You can stream In Reverie on Spotify.

Both Through Being Cool and Stay What You Are seemed like required listening for anyone developing a sense of music. Aggressive pop punk and restrained rock, respectively, they showed alternating sides of the same band and a maturity in songwriting that few bands successfully manage. Especially after Stay What You Are, arguably one of the most popular albums of the time, the wait for Saves The Day’s next record was excruciating.

In Reverie felt different right away. It was the first album cover to feature a painting instead of a high school inspired photograph. The CD itself was a bright, tangerine orange. Before even pressing ‘Play’, it warned you to be prepared for something new.

“Anywhere With You”, one of the few singles from the album that remains a live staple, broke out with harsh, fuzzed guitars as the back drop for Chris Conley’s new vocal style. In retrospect, it’s not that big of a jump. However, at the time of release, it almost sounded like a brand new singer had taken over. Not nearly as nasally, Conley was crisper and more relaxed as his pitch edged upwards.

In Reverie also marked the beginning of the modern Saves The Day ‘sound.’ It established the tight melodic pop song formula that would become the staple format of the band moving forward. While it would take the next album, Sound The Alarm, to firmly mark the occasion with aggressive guitars, In Reverie experimented with more relaxed songwriting.

Songs like “Monkey” played with loud and soft melodies, refusing to lean too far one way or the other. “Wednesday The Third” rediscovered the dark guitars, but let Conley’s vocals explore the musical scale and harmonize off of himself.

While other albums would return to the pained existential lyricism of the band’s first few albums, In Reverie played around a bit more. While there are certainly songs pertaining to the pains of relationships, (“Anywhere With You”) or emotional turmoil, (“In My Waking Life”), there were many more songs with fanciful lyrics that don’t seem to hold much meaning other than being fun to sing.

“Morning In The Moonlight”, one of the few absolute jams on the album, delves deep into this aspect. There’s little to take away from the song other than the lyrics are just a blast to sing out loud. “Madness ensues, swimming in ocean blues / The dream-dripping sky covers my insides / The moonlight in the morning sun sends shivers over my skin / The memories are slowly slipping and I’m sailing against the wind”.

It took a few years for In Reverie to actually be discussed positively. My friend group largely ignored the album until after the release of Sound The Alarm. Conley himself stated it was his favorite record in various interviews, but acknowledged that critical reaction to it had caused a course correction. Sound The Alarm and Under the Boards were largely written as a response to In Reverie. The guitars immediately became more aggressive and the lyrics grew darker. It was a stylistic approach that appealed to the imagery of past songs, like “As Your Ghost Takes Flight”.

Looking back on it, In Reverie isn’t as drastically different from Saves The Day’s discography as it sounded upon release. It seems to fit into their body of work musically better than Stay What You Are in many ways, even if it still stands out lyrically. Many of the same people who initially hated the record now regard it as their favorite album. However, it still remains the black sheep of Saves The Day’s history. Songs from it rarely seem to be played live, and it seems rarely discussed. It’s a shame, because the album is such a cornerstone of the last 15 years of the band’s history.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and just dropped two eggs on the floor, accidentally creating the worst breakfast this side of the Mississip’.

Reflecting On: Dashboard Confessional – Dusk and Summer


Dusk and Summer has always felt like an out of place title in the midst of Dashboard Confessional’s discography. Replacing the melancholy of earlier records and the spectacle of “Dashboard goes electric”, Dusk and Summer is a glamorized summer album, specifically tailored to be listened to as a soundtrack on the beach. The guitars are softer, laying the groundwork for songs soaking themselves in love and sunshine. Dusk and Summer is the Dashboard record that I cherry pick the most when listening to these days, but remains the album that feels the most like the summer of 2006 to me 10 years later.

Having followed Dashboard Confessional for years before the release of this album, the only release between this album and 2003’s seminal A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar was the song “Vindicated” from the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack, a rock song that seemed to be following the band’s transition from from acoustic emo to sovereign rock band. It retained the sound of slower guitars that focused the crunch of punk and the melody of pop punk while Chris Carrabba pushed his vocals to soaring heights.

“Don’t Wait”, the first single off of Dusk and Summer was a softer ballad. The crisp snap of acoustic guitar, the aura of electric guitar and drums playing for rhythm rather than leading the song let me down on some level. It wasn’t the sound of a band testing their ability to refine their newly discovered rock sound, it was a band writing easier songs. It was a band delving into being in love instead of the prose that seemed to define their earlier career.

Songs like “Reason to Believe” or “Rooftops and Invitations” seemed more in line with what I had expected, but even then I saw them more as alt-rock radio songs than anything else.

That said, I listened to Dusk and Summer the entire season while on vacation between college semesters. I found love for the first time and never gave credit to this album for being my soundtrack for late night drives and hot summer days scouring creek beds. It spun on repeat, interrupting AFI’s “Miss Murder” and my long-awaited triple-disc album from The Early November.

Where Dusk and Summer shines is the innocence of its message. Chris Carrabba romanticized the feeling and memories of first love. It’s almost a concept album in execution, as it perfectly encapsulates the lust and obsession of feeling like the most special thing in the world to someone else and seeing them as the same. It also executes the realization that though a relationship may end, it doesn’t make those memories or emotions any less real.

During the title track, as he sings, “And she pulled you in / And she bit your lip and she made you hers / She looked deep into you as you lay together / Quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer / But you’ve already lost”, I can see myself, eyes-glazed, wondering how an emotion could be so powerful.

“Stolen” sees Chris sing, “I watch you spin in your highest heels / You are the best one of the best ones / And we all look like we feel / You have stolen my heart”. The grace of the lyrics, the sweet croons of violin and the gentle build-up of guitar swell the song to become one of the great love songs of the era.

One of the main themes of Dusk and Summer is letting down your guard for the experiences of love. “Don’t Wait”, the opening track, repeatedly begs amidst its chorus for the listener “to lay your armor down”. Conversely, possibly one of the most underappreciated songs on the album, “Slow Decay”, shows the consequences of doing so that doesn’t have a happy ending. What could be a conversation between a father and a son suffering from PTSD, coming home from the battlefield is also a lesson from father to son about coping with a fresh, failed relationship and the terrifying loneliness that accompanies it as you try to find normalcy again. For someone who hasn’t experienced it before, it can be devastating.

“You look so strong in that picture on the mantle you sent your mom when you were gone / But you look scared now, hollow eyed / When are you coming, when are you coming back to where you belong? / I swear that it’s safe here, there’s nothing to fear at all / Come on back to where you belong / The pressure releases if you just let down your guard”.

Dusk and Summer might emote the feelings of love and let-down that accompany relationships far better than the most heartfelt emo that has been praised for the that exact reason. Though I still have a tough time claiming it amongs my favorite Dashboard Confessional albums, the record means more to me every time I listen to it. While there are a dozen other albums that I would rate more important to me that came out in 2006, or even just during the summer of that year, Dusk and Summer might be the most memorable.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and literally just realized how lovely this album is while listening to it tonight. What an ass. If you see him, pelt him with shards of glass for waiting 10 years to appreciate Dusk and Summer.