Wet From Birth
Author: Chris Freeman
There have been a slew of bands making a living by resurrecting the goth and New Wave sounds of the '80s, but none have so completely fused the elements with a punk-rock ethos the way the Faint have. These boys come from Omaha, Neb., a Midwest puddle of a town where something remarkable happened. Like a new strain of mushrooms, a scene was born in Omaha when Saddle Creek Records formed around a small group of like-minded musicians who shared a passion for their art. When the Faint broke through with 2001's "Danse Macabre," they dragged their friends in with them and the bidding wars started. Armed with a killer dance-rock album so dark it could scare goths, and a live act so compelling that people stood around in a daze from exhaustion when they left the stage, the band was poised for success. They became critical darlings and some of the more adventurous alternative radio stations began to play their songs. No Doubt saw their potential and gave them a coveted opening slot on their last U.S. tour. It was rumored that they had been in negotiations with several major labels eager to strike while the iron was hot. Instead of taking the bait, they went home and took some much-deserved time off after a relentless tour. Members kept busy with their own projects, but the band convened once a week at an old warehouse for rehearsals, and "Wet From Birth" was born. This is a far less harsh, but no less dense album than its predecessor, with more variety in the keyboard sounds. And whereas the guitars were secondary instruments, they are now put to better use--there's even a solo!--and the "get high and listen on the headphones" factor is way up there. The songwriting is better overall, too, with more attention paid to the melodies. Even at a mere 35 minutes, this is one of the 10 best releases this year. Hurray for the Faint!