I’ve lost track of what wave of goth we’re on now (third? fourth?), but Bret and Bart Helm of Audra are definitely riding high on it. Singing about darkness and death, beauty and twisted loves in a dark baritone, Bret reminds me a lot of Pat Ogl of Thanatos. Like Pat, Bret has a beautiful voice, and doesn’t sing so much as intone his lyrics like incantations. The music is mostly goth-standard guitar, bass, and drum machine, with added touches such as synth textures and acoustic percussion, providing an appropriately understated (if sometimes slightly monotonous) sepulchral backdrop for Bret’s dark musings.

“You’re So Pretty” is one of the creepier offerings, with its slowly plucked guitar in a moody minor key and bone-shivering tambourine backing Bret’s tale of someone who keeps a girl pretty in his basement – too pretty to sleep or eat; too pretty to be released from the chains with which she is fastened to walls and floor. A couple songs are memorials to the lost, such as “In Hollywood Tonight,” a bleak farewell to Rozz Williams of Christian Death, or the hard-driving “What Your Eyes Had Seen,” with its way cool slinky bass line.

“Venus” has an incredibly catchy guitar line, as well as some nice military drum rolls and cool lyrics about wanting what you can no longer have. And “2 Girls in 1 Dress” has guitars shimmering dark around its edges like nightmares capering just out of view while you’re crying backwards, trying so hard to remember the girl you’ve been looking for so long that you don’t recognize her when you see her dead on the sidewalk….

Projekt/Darkwave, P.O. Box 166155, Chicago, IL 60616;

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