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Blaqk Audio - Cexcells

Blaqk Audio, Cexcells

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

BLAQK Audio’s Cexcells is one of the strangest albums you’re likely to hear all year.

A side project of AFI’s Jade Puget and Davey Havok, it’s a dark, epic hybrid of Depeche Mode and Marilyn Manson with cheesy dance influences mixed in.

When it works, it actually puts forth some interesting tracks. But at its worst, it’s a derivative piece of ’80s influenced pop that’s forgettable at best.

The album actually had its genesis around six years ago, when Puget and Havok sought to combine their passion for prime Depeche Mode era music and early Ministry sounds.

But owing to AFI’s writing, recording and touring regime, they had little time to indulge a side project. Now, however, when electronica, dance and ’80s are regularly being combined, they felt now was the time to strike.

As mentioned, the result is a mixed bag. Of the highlights, album opener Stiff Kittens sets things up well, emerging as one of the best songs that Depeche Mode never wrote at the height of their power. It’s dark, orchestral yet capable of a wide pop appeal.

Second track Between Breaths (An XX Perspective) darkens things up further, amid a whirlwind of scuzzy electronics and strained vocals that chart the tortured glam-rock territory of contemporary Manson.

But thereafter, it’s more hit and miss – with the misses arguably outweighing the hits.

The album comes unstuck when attempting to recapture a harder, blander, more four to the floor dancefloor sound, with tracks like Snuff On Digital, On A Friday and Semiotic Love more likely to leave you with a headache than enthused. AFI fans, in particular, may wonder what the hell is going on!

That said, there’s a guilty pleasure to be found in more emphatic ‘epics’ such as the mid-tempo The Love Letter and the slow-building Cities Of Night, which really comes alive during the emphatic chorus.

The Depeche Mode comparison is alive and well on Where Would You Like Them Left? as well, meaning that Cexcells could well serve as an effective stop-gap while Dave Gahan and co deliver their next LP.

Download picks: Stiff Kittens, Where Would You Like Them Left?, Cities Of Night, The Love Letter

Track listing:

  1. Stiff Kittens
  2. Between Breaths (An XX Perspective)
  3. Snuff On Digital
  4. Bitter For Sweet
  5. Where Would You Like Them Left?
  6. The Fear Of Being Found
  7. On A Friday
  8. The Love Letter
  9. Semiotic Love
  10. Cities Of Night
  11. Again, Again And Again
  12. Wake Up, Open The Door And Escape To The Sea