Supergroup is a term bandied about too much these days, including here at this very website. It’s hard to help it in the streaming music age, which coincidently has also fostered a new openness and freedom for artists to come together as never before. Perhaps we need another terminology to describe these collectives. How about “artistic hive-mind”? That’s one that definitely suits The Black Queen, who is more than a mere musical group, but carry these sensibilities in everything they do from songs and lyrics to album art, videos, t-shirts, and visual performances live. The sum of their recorded output is but one facet of what can be possible when they get together.
Picking up where 2016’s Fever Daydream left off, Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan), Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv/Puscifer) and Steven Alexander Ryan (Nine Inch Nails/A Perfect Circle tech), return again to the clinical, cold world of Blade Runner aesthetic of futurism meets post-punk mentality. The track on Infinite Games (Federal Prisoner) glide along a sheet of Fairlight EMU sounding, synth bass heavy, 1980s sequencer chirps, and drum machine beat ecstasy so good, you might wonder if your Delorian is out of Plutonium. Cold and clean, each track begins sparsely, but expanding outward and drilling right into your soul. All of these sonic layers congealing, each member of the band putting their own stamp on the tracks. For all the synth-pop, there is also quite a bit of lovely guitar work here, but it’s buried in the mix a bit. On top of it all is the gorgeous, soulful coo of Puciato who can evoke Prince, Chino Moreno, Kate Bush, George Michael, Roland Orzabell, and David Bowie; sometimes all in the same song.
A lot of the tracks have vulnerability not often seen in much modern music. Some are mournful, while others have a buzzing intensity. Some of the top tracks include the opener ‘Even Still I Want To’, ‘No Accusations’, ‘Your Move’, ‘Impossible Condition’, ‘Porcelain Veins’ and ‘One Edge of Two’. Overall the entire album is really comforting and easy to put on repeat and slip away.
Although since The Black Queen formed there have been a lot of imitators and sound-alike groups. That doesn’t diminish what they have done here. While not carving any new paths, they have taken the familiar and put a unique filter on it for you. This makes for an impressive follow-up.