Author: Tim McMahan
So what exactly is so heart stopping about The Faint? The critics can't seem to agree. As a lark, the boys in the band compiled a list of who they've been compared to while on their last East Coast tour and posted it on the Internet. Among the more than 40 names: Thomas Dolby meets Pac Man, Braniac, Depeche Mode, The Calculators, Nine Inch Nails, Devo, Split Enz, early Duran Duran, the Cure, Kraftwerk, Wire, Joy Division, Blondie, Sonic Youth, Magazine, KMFDM and The Pet Shop Boys. Comparisons are the bane of all musicians, who always insist that their sound is singular, unique, unmatched. Well, this time, the comparisons are justified. There's something about The Faint that you've heard before, but that you just can't put your finger on. Lead singer Todd Baechle, for example, to me sounds like "Squeezing Out Sparks"-era Graham Parker or a throaty Elvis Costello backed by, well, Thomas Dolby. Baechle smiled at the Parker comparison -- he'd never heard his stuff before. "We'll come up with a part of a song that sounds like a certain band, then ask ourselves just how close we sound to it, and then try to distance ourselves from it as much as possible." The Omaha 4-piece's new album, "Blank-Wave Arcade" slated for release Nov. 1 on Saddle Creek Records, is a departure of sorts from the guitar-driven post-punk sound of their April '98 debut, "Media." This time around, the band has completely reinvented itself, in what both sounds and looks like something that came out of the '80s New Wave art-rock scene.