Reviews

Wet From Birth

Author: Barry Thompson
05/24/2007 | Boston Herald | www.bostonherald.com | Feature
For a while there, popular music seemed to be headed back to the '80s. Credit the Faint, from Omaha, Neb. - at least in part.

In the late '90s, founding members Todd Fink (vocals), Joel Petersen (bass) and Clark Baechle (drums) rebelled against the prototypical indie-rock sound, and shifted their emphasis from guitars to synthesizers.

The band - which plays Avalon Saturday - has had indie and goth crowds dancing their bohemian tushes off ever since.

"The reason that we kind of have an '80s feel, is the only keyboards we could afford at first happened to be old analog keyboards," said synth and keyboard player Jacob Thiele. "So we were using the same keyboards, and the same approach, because the bands using those instruments in the early '70s and late '80s were also figuring out how to use them."

Still, Thiele, who describes himself as a fan of '80s music, worries that "our music seems pretty outdated. There're a lot more modern sounds happening, mostly in France and Germany."

Maybe, but the Faint's exploratory tendencies set it apart from the throwback-style Braverys of the world. Like their contemporaries from the Omaha/Saddle Creek Records circle (Bright Eyes, Cursive), the Faint never quite settles on a formula but stays grounded in an acute dance-rock sensibility.

The simultaneously brooding and bouncing 2001 album "Danse Macabre," was followed up by 2004's visceral "Wet From Birth," the Faint's first collectively written album. No longer content to rely solely on electronics for sonic variation, the band used a string quartet on the track "Southern Belles in London Sing." To get the desired bluntness on "I Disappear," they stabbed a bass amp repeatedly with sharp objects.

Thiele said new Faint material, some of which debuts on this tour, was written as band mates played it together. In the past, each band member added his part individually over demos. "I think the natural tendency is to rock a little more that way, but it's hard to say," he said.

The Faint is working on a new album; Thiele said he's not sure who's going to release it or when. Until then, Hub fans can get their deviant boogie on when the band hits Avalon Saturday. There'll be a giant video screen, which plays clip montages corresponding to every song, so don't worry if you can't get close to the stage.

Perhaps the future sounds less like the '80s, and more like this: "I had this one keyboard that died, and when it died it let out this kind of sigh, or a groan," said Thiele. "It was as if it was saying it didn't want to play sounds for me anymore. It was kind of a big yawn that went down in pitch over time. I wish I could've recorded that."
Wet From Birth

Wet From Birth

LP / CD / MP3