Reviews

Blank-wave Arcade

11/01/1999 | Too Much Rock.com | www.toomuchrock.com | Album Review
Unfortunately a large number of people decided to leave after SAD, missing The Faint. Fortunately once The Faint had set up their gear (three keyboards, a drum machine, a sequencer, a synth, drums, triggers, a bass, and an elabourate light show) there really wasn't much room left for an audience anyway. After almost an hour pause, the lights in the basement went out and a thick synthesized drum beat pulsed through the basement. A flash of green light brought in the rest of band and transported the 20 people in the basement to an entirely differently place and time. If you have not seen The Faint on this tour, forget everything you know about the band. The guitar rock is gone, in fact even the guitar noises from the new CD are gone. The band is focused on electronic melodies and hooks - luckily The Faint handles both in spades. The songs are thick, short and entirely enveloping. It was the early uk new wave intrigue paired with a US no wave aesthetic. As Baechle clutched his microphone dancing around the dimly lit, strobe lit, or completely unlit, "stage", and as the band barraged me with sounds and lights, it felt not like a basement show, but a concert. The kind of arena rock show you got excited about when you were in high school. It was The Smiths' concert you waited for for months and still brag about over a decade later. Less than thirty minutes later it was over, and the lights came back on, and what was the interesting motif of Treva's basement was dull. I was a little out of sorts after being taken someplace vibrant but dropped back off in a basement in Missouri. I wondered if this was the same feeling you got when coming down from a drug, and just in case I picked up a copy of The Faint's just-released CD - just to smooth out any withdrawal. The Faint have not created anything original with Blank Wave Arcade, however this album is fantastically new. The band has brought the romance, the intrigue and the mystery of early UK new wave, mixed it with the raw asthetic of US no wave, and created their own genre, "blank wave." Whereas the band's last album was defined by post-punk wirey guitar, Blank Wave Arcade has done away with live guitar entirely, perfering to use sampled and altered guitar tones when guitar is present at all. The band now utilizes pounding but bouncy bass and a heap of drum triggers, synths, and keyboards to create this dark and dancy album. The cold, and often dry, lyrical delivery matches perfectly the tech savy beats, crashing noises and electronic blips, it obviously just couldn't be done any other way. Nearly half of the songs on this album relate to sex, while the rest seem to be removed observations on society. All seem oddly introspective (even when they aren't personal). The band's lyrics are witty and deal with complex emotions and situations in a concise way that simply amazes me. The reporting and non-analysis analysis of the sex industry in Worked Up So Sexual is a wonderful example and possibly my favourite on this album. While this album will obviously appeal to fans of the musical bindings of 1975-1981's underground, it certainly is not a retro album. The Faint have looked into the future and realized it is the same bleak future presented two decades before, but this time it's not so shocking and the band seems to accept they're in for the ride. Let them take you along, because The Faint are headed for where we will all end up eventually.
Blank-wave Arcade

Blank-wave Arcade

LP / CD / MP3