Reviews

Wet From Birth

Author: Joshua Ostroff
10/06/2004 | Eye.net | www.eye.net | Feature
Omaha, Nebraska is not the first place you think of upon hearing a deadpan lyric like, "I was acting indifferent at the merch booth, putting on makeup," off The Faint's latest album of techno-goth rave-ups, Wet From Birth. But New York has no lock on dance-rock.

"There's not a lot happening here as far as danceable electronic rock music, but we are in a community that does make music," says Faint bassist Joel Petersen, referring to their indie label, Saddle Creek, started by one-time bandmate and full-time Bright Eye Conor Oberst. "So we don't feel like outsiders at all. We very much feel part of something here and I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that we use keyboards."

But the quintet's genre-jumping, synth-fired songs do sound like outsider music -- or at least like the type of dark, sexy sonics favoured by the black-clad contingent across subcultures.

"We're drawn to melodies that have a darker feel to them -- pretty much everything we've ever written is in a minor key -- but lyrically I wouldn't say this record is dark," Petersen says.

"I don't know if any of our records lyrically are dark; I always see them as optimistic but having language in them that I can see why it would be considered that way," he adds, namedropping uplifting tracks like "Agenda Suicide."

The Faint's founders (including brothers Todd Baechle on vocals and Clark Baechle on drums) have been peddling their wares from the heartland for a decade now, starting out as a "crappy messy lite indie" coffee-house band (then known as Norman Bailer) before slowly evolving into a genuinely exciting mix of electro club beats, retro '80s aesthetics and indie-rock attitude.

While the notion of indie kids dancing seems de rigueur in the '04, The Faint helped launch the movement a few albums back. "When we were writing Blank Wave Arcade six years ago, that's something we were going for. We were indie kids and we wanted to have fun at shows."

They finally succeeded with 2001'sDanse Macabre, which rode the electroclash wave from the rock side. The Faint spent two years on the road, gunning for the mainstream opening for No Doubt while winning over the indie crowd in rock bars and releasing last year's Astralwerks remix album for the dance kids. The goths, meanwhile, managed to find them by album title alone.

Then the band holed up in a warehouse space known as The Orifice (judging by this, their new album's title and the new song "Erection," they appear endlessly amused by bodily humour) and plugged away for a year on the 10 tracks that eventually made up Wet From Birth.

Replete with grandiose strings, lusty swagger, club-thumping drums and a renewed emphasis on guitar (thanks to the addition of Dapose, a death-metal axe-man who joined halfway through the Dansesessions), The Faint's new album lets the Nebraskans step back up to the front of the retro-futuristic fusionista class. Though Petersen claims to not pay attention to broad musical trends, he is aware of the musical convergence their synth-rock presaged.

"That's a natural occurrence, as people become more interested in different things that could seem opposing," he says. "It is inevitable that music will become the combination of everything."
Wet From Birth

Wet From Birth

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