Black Marble Credit: Courtesy the Artist

With this summer’s Bigger Than Life (Sacred Bones), Black Marble has finally given in and made a pop record. Born in Brooklyn and now based in Los Angeles, this darkwave act began in 2012 as the bleak, gothy duo of Chris Stewart and Ty Kube, but by 2016, when Stewart moved west and released Black Marble’s second album, It’s Immaterial, it had become his solo project. Perhaps the huge departure he makes on Bigger Than Life can be chalked up to his three years of Cali sun. The album’s electronic rhythms are still steeped in dank New York cool, but its bouncy synths and yearning vocals shed the gloom of Black Marble’s previous releases and lean into heartwarming nostalgia and borderline cheeriness. Adding to the songs’ timeless warm ’n’ fuzzy quality, they almost sound like they’re coming out of a staticky FM radio. Bigger Than Life finds joy in darkwave’s inherent sadness and moving depth in its bare simplicity, and that’s a feat for a genre that sometimes feels like it’s already done everything it could possibly do.   v