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Album Review

The Black Queen – Fever Daydream

The Black Queen - Fever Daydream

A fantastic retro synth album.

Label: Self-released
Released: 29th January 2016

Rating: ★★★★

When trying to judge what Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato is capable of, it’s always a good idea to remember that he once defecated into a cup in public and proceeded to throw that into an audience. Though this fact may not initially seem relevant, it is worth reminding those that met this electronic album’s announcement with skepticism that if Greg can do that on stage, he can probably handle making some retro synth-pop. We’ve even had a primer for this, as the Mike Patton-esque vocals on lead single ‘Maybe We Should’, for instance hark back to Dillinger tracks like ‘Gold Teeth On A Bum’; though Greg’s usually not known for his clean singing, his voice is powerful and melodic when he’s not tearing it to shreds.

For the most part, the tracks stick to a similar tack; mixing darker synth verse textures with upbeat choruses and sparing use of both the guitar and Greg’s falsetto range. Nevertheless, it’s the more uptempo tracks like ‘That Death Cannot Touch’ that really get the head bopping. It’s gauzy, brilliant synth pop that belongs in the wind down from a hedonistic night; cathartic in a similar way to the self reflexive exhaustion one might feel after moshing at a Dillinger show but explored by exercising different muscles. ‘Distanced’ has more than a bit of a ‘Year Zero’ Nine Inch Nails vibe about it, but most of the album has more in common with bands like Glowbug that have discovered neon synth textures after years absorbing the dynamic shifts and aggression of post-hardcore.

In fact, that’s perhaps the only criticism of this otherwise blinding set of tracks; that unlike on say, Glowbug’s stellar recent ‘Headhunters’ LP, there’s little actual heaviness; melodic release, but not the cheap thrills that both rock and clipped synths can offer. This is a fantastic retro synth album with its sparse tendencies toward genre crossover, but it’s just too tempting to imagine how wild this record could have been were it to veer in places a little closer to the day job; a couple of screams and some fat chords could have been chillingly jarring. Alex Lynham