ARTIST: THE BLACK QUEEN
TITLE: INFINITE GAMES
LABEL: FEDERAL PRISONER
RATING: 8 /10
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
A passion project formed out of wanting to move away from their own comfort zones in the music industry, synth-pop trio The Black Queen have stayed determined in the face of tragedy and misfortune during recent times to come back with their second release, ‘Infinite Games’.
Since the success of their self-released debut ‘Fever Daydream’ in 2016, the group had to battle through downfalls. From project disbandment and robbery to coping with mental illness and death, the band were set back and had to build themselves up from the bottom. Once they all got back into the studio, and into the swing of things again, they were well and truly back on track and unstoppable.
Lead vocalist Greg Puciato described the latest album as “more insidious in that it reveals itself over time”, and this is accurate when playing through the track list. Most tracks begin at a soft and steady pace, but gradually build upon themselves; strengthening the sound as every song runs through. The album’s opening track, ‘Even Still I Want To’, begins with some soft vocals by Puciato; a distorted voice alongside a synthesised accompaniment introduces an eerie retro atmosphere, contrasting with the happy-go-lucky image of the overall pop genre that is projected into the mainstream. An alternative take on a favourite field of music, this track transitions smoothly into the next, ‘Thrown Into The Dark’.
“…TRULY BACK ON TRACK AND UNSTOPPABLE…”
From this point, the pace is picked up and the Los Angeles group truly show what experimentation and determination can lead to. Fitting for drama or the dancefloor – chilling out or a chilling thriller – the steady percussion beats combined with Puciato’s emotional and versatile vocals will keep a listener hooked. Described as “hookier” by Puciato himself, it is an audible example of the development of a signature sound.
The ever-changing distortions in the vocals are what will capture attention. From blended in echoes accompanying the synthesised sound to near unrecognisable warping setting an adventurous mood – this is what sets the contrast from one track to another. No two tunes have the same vocal treatment; intentional or unintentional, it keeps every moment fresh in the ear and the mind.
The classic electro/synth feel will bring in the interest of the older crowd, as well as young music lovers looking for a new beat to bop to. There are undertones of rock and alternative mixed in; such as a hint of influence from Nine Inch Nails – possibly stemming from member Joshua Eustis’ experience as a touring musician with NIN – which can be strong felt in the album’s closing track ‘One Edge of Two’. It’s the longest track, coming just shy of seven minutes in total, and ends a story of in-depth thoughts on wanting fulfilment and peace in life. Compared to the slow-paced gentle nature of ‘Even Still I Want To’, ‘One Edge of Two’ shows how the album has built up over the course of ten songs. Such as a lifetime, the album’s entirety can be interpreted as a musical metaphor for growing, developing, and surviving in the world.
“…A MUSICAL METAPHOR FOR GROWING, DEVELOPING AND SURVIVING IN THE WORLD…”
The band itself is still growing up too. The Black Queen are three years young, two records in, and still with one musical aim: to put their passion to the test. Fine-tuning thoughts, opinions, and emotions takes time and effort. ‘Infinite Games’ is a step in the right direction but there is yet to be a leap.
Overall, The Black Queen are walking before they run. Releasing a record such as ‘Infinite Games’ and already getting a grip on the sound they sought out back in 2016, they are coming back up and standing straight. They are mastering their walk.
Next: to run.