I could sing the praises of The Faint's Blank-Wave Arcade all day long. I was ready to chalk the album up to a fluke "mistakes that worked" New Wave/Hardcore meld and assumed that it would be the end product. When I saw them live on July 3, they indulged in several new songs that caught my attention. It hadn't even occurred to me that the band could possibly transcend their previous release. Only having had this CD for about 4 days, I've probably listened to it 15 times or so. The Faint have ventured much deeper into the New Wave realm without letting go of their hardcore roots. Nine songs that outdo each other with synths from heaven, crazy distortion vocals, a live drummer, a cello on three of the tracks, and Todd's sweet-boy singing voice.
I was thinking about the Faint when I saw Depeche Mode recently in an over-bloated arena. Watching the singer struggle for emotion while he went through the movements. The classics sounded great, but the newer stuff just sounded like they were ripping off themselves. I have to admit that I don't know nearly as much as I'd like to about New Wave, having been born in 1976, I didn't see much first-hand and I was a lover of the Grunge through my high school years, then hardcore. Going back and examining some of the classic New Wave bands, it seems that The Faint have managed to capture everything that those bands wanted to do without an abundance of irony. It's really pretty neat, especially when you realize that the members of The Faint are probably a year or two (or more even) younger than me.
I'm not sure why anyone would dislike The Faint and they've gotten no shortage of well-deserved attention from the indie-rock community, now spreading a bit into the conscious of the mainstream. (with even mentions of Gwyneth Paltrow being a Faint fan) Blank-Wave Arcade had some incredibly strong and revelatory moments, but overall Danse Macabre is a more consistent and stronger album. B-WA felt like an experiment, this feels like a craft by a band that has mastered their trade.
Music that you can dance and sing along to as well as sit down and examine the lyrics of.
I think New Wave dance music should get your heart-racing and your mind whirling. While on the floor with the flashing lights and sweaty bodies escaping from day-life, I want the music to serve as an opportunity to remember the fact that I am alive and
have movement and can feel sexy. I want to smile the next day thinking about how much fun I had. The opening "Agenda Suicide" examines the futility of the nine-to-five: "the drones work hard before they die and give up on pretty little homes." The song "Posed to Death" will be fun to sing-along to with it's "ooh ahh ooh..." parts while you pogo up and down to its lovely bass lines. "The Conductor" rings in with a dooming bell that is soon joined by one crazy dance beat and gives way to lyrics about an orchestra conductor with heavy vocoder vocals. The beautiful cello on "Ballad of a Paralysed Citizen" is almost enough for me to give The Faint an A+.
My favorite track "Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat" gives new meaning to the word "excitement" as it sharpens its sword on the soft flesh of your cheek. It's got a really nice set of whiny synths and hand-claps opportunities. Fairly reminiscent of Depeche Mode's "People are People" in style and content. I thought "Your Retro Career Melted" was a middle finger to the eighties New Wave wannabes; examining the lyrics, I found that it is an extremely strange song about a mannequin that falls out of the back of a truck in front of an old hotel in the middle of nowhere that has a mechanical voice saying "Your Retro Career Melted" and the onlookers blow it to pieces with a shotgun and gather up its parts in a garbage bag. Who knew?
CD / LP / MP3
CD / LP / MP3
CD / LP
CD / LP / MP3