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Danse Macabre

02/02/2002 | New York Times | Album Review

Omaha Group Adopts a Sound Long Favored by the British
Bowery Ballroom

In the early 1980's British groups like Soft Cell seemed to exist in their own sealed world, combining theatrical vocals and barbed keyboards into a quintessentially British sound. Twenty years later the Americans are starting to figure out what they've been missing. Perhaps no act is more shameless about its anglophilia than the Faint, an Omaha band that played on Thursday night.
The show started with five men onstage, all dressed in snug black clothes. While the drummer kept time on a kit that included electronic triggers, the other four stalked the stage on the balls of their feet, knees wobbling in time to the music. The lead singer, Todd Baechle, preened his way through 14 songs about fashion victims. "I feel the social glare," he sang, "I feel the attitude," although his self-conscious poses suggested something glamorous.
The Faint was once a guitar-oriented rock group, and the switch to synthesizer pop has required some creativity. On Thursday night the keyboardist supplied many of the bass lines, and the bassist distorted his instrument to make it sound like a guitar. This left the guitarist free to shake his hair and dance, which seemed to suit him fine. There aren't any great songs on "Danse Macabre" (Saddle Creek), the Faint's most recent album, but there are plenty of memorable sonic flourishes, many of which the group recreated live. Mr. Baechle alternated between two microphones: one that compressed his voice into an AM-radio whine, and one that used electronic effects to turn him into a gurgling robot. When he grabbed the robot microphone and whimpered, "I'm melting, I'm melting, I'm melting," it really did sound as if something was wrong with his circuitry. It could almost have been Britain in the early 1980's, until a young woman shouted, "Viva Nebraska!"
Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre

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