Reviews

Wet From Birth

Author: Brian Fogarty
01/31/2005 | Exoduster.com | www.exoduster.com | Album Review
It has been an infinitely-long time since Omaha's favorite punk-electronic dance troupe has unleashed a new album for hip, uptempo partiers. Yet that time away from recording has added tremendously in the quality of this latest endeavor. For both those still in the dark about the Faint as well as their legions of fans, Wet From Birth is a smoking affair.

Although Media is the Faint's first release, it wasn't until Blank Wave Arcade did the current conception of the band take hold. As it were, the Faint were simply another indie rock band during the days of Media and they found it less than inspiring. Thankfully for us listeners, they decided to include keyboards and other electronics to make a product that is a fabulous time in both recorded and live form. In the move to this new sound the band became composed of brothers Todd Baechle (lead vocals, synths) and Clark Baechle (drums, vocals) along with Jacob Thiele (synths) and Joel Petersen (bass, guitar) and later Dapose (guitar). To say that Blank Wave Arcade was a shocking blast of awesomeness onto the musical world would be an understatement. The throbbing sexual prowess of Blank Wave Arcade starting with "Sex is Personal" to "Worked Up So Sexual" to "Casual Sex," along with other fantastic tracks like "Call Call" and "In Concert" created one of the most grabbling albums of the time. This recording coupled with a phenomenal live performance won fans from everyone who could experience such a show. While Blank Wave Arcade is comparatively raw, it is what laid the foundation for the Faint and helped issue in a fresh new wave energy.

The Faint followed up with 2001's Danse Macabre, an album with a significantly enhanced production job that highlighted the band's allegiance to all things electronic. While Danse Macabre illustrated vast musical maturity by the band, it seemed to lack the pure punk foundation and favored more electronic-dance esotericism. Regardless, Danse Macabre opened the doors to the masses for the Faint allowing them to score amazing opening tours e.g., with No Doubt as well as to set their agenda for touring. It is hard to deny that songs such as "Agenda Suicide," "Your Retro Career Melted" and "Glass Danse" are breath-taking indie club tracks, but compared with Blank Wave Arcade the songs dropped off in appeal to punk catchiness. Still, and amazingly enough, Astralwerks released a remixed version of the record featuring such phenomenal electronic artists as Paul Oakenfold, Thin White Duke, Junior Sanchez and Tommie Sunshine.

For Wet from Birth, the band took over a warehouse and worked on the record for the better part of year. Besides from simply taking their time, the members of the Faint were also busy doing their own stuff including Petersen's Broken Spindles. Heading back into recording with uber-producer and Omaha/Saddle Creek stalwart Mike Mogis, the Faint have unleashed arguably their best record. It is clear from the opening "Desperate Guys" that the Faint have welded and weaved the two previous records to make a more punk-orientated record and it is awesome. On "Desperate Guys," the Faint set the tone for what is in store over the next nine tracks. "Desperate Guys" begins with creepy strings as Baechle's vocals come in to thumping bass and drums and intermittently employs electronic swath. Following a slower throbbing beat "How Could I Forget" begins slowly but picks on the bridge with strings and synths. Petersen's heavily distorted bass opens "I Disappear" and maintains the rhythm throughout the course of the moderately entertaining song. Yet "I Disappear" is simply the set up to probably the best song on the record "Southern Belles in London Sing." With a slow strings movement as the introduction, the song picks up inertia with stabbing strings and Baechle's vocals leading the way to an awesome section of Orenda Fink and Maria Taylor (of Azure Ray) providing ethereal vocals. Further, the breakdown on "Southern Belles in London Sing" is simply brilliant. What really will encase the song in your memory are the strings and the uptempo party atmosphere. The Faint follow this up with the slow tempo, clapping "Erection" a song that comes very close to the sound on Danse Macabre. "Paranoiattack" is a blitz of distorted electronics, while "Drop Kick the Punks" is clearly the most aggressive, hard hitting number on Wet from Birth. As the first track ever released that was written by Clark Baechle, "Phone Call" starts in with uninspiring fashion but picks up on the strung out electronic bridge and the chorus. While "Phone Call" is not as stellar as say "Southern Belles in London Sing" it ain't half bad either and is a formidable offering by Clark. "Symptom Finger" begins as a distorted remix of something oh so familiar Dead or Alive-esque and carries the theme throughout the choruses. Wet from Birth ends on the guitar-driven "Birth" where the Faint echo back to musical themes from Blank Wave Arcade.

The sheer awesomeness of Wet from Birth easily makes up for not releasing any new material for several years. Since the Faint play bigger and bigger clubs these days, their amazing live show with synchronized light bonanza is diminished if they are playing a place that can ensure a pitch black start point then you will be floored by their show (as we were a few years ago). Still, seeing the Faint in any locale can only provide a smile to your face and workout for your feet.
Wet From Birth

Wet From Birth

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