Saddle Creek | The Faint | Reviews


Blank-wave Arcade

Author: (AB)
11/01/1999 | Skyscraper | | Album Review
Armed with a grip of synthesizers, electronic percussion, and a live rhythm section, The Faint cleverly deconstruct new wave, using what the band likes, discarding the rest and adding their own innovative ideas to the process. Their pop-oriented new wave is almost as equally driven by punk, though, as it is by dance, with spastic outbursts of noise and an edgy aggression threaded throughout Blank-Wave Arcade. By taking a handful of futuristic cool wave influences (Gary Numan, Devo, Human League, Ultravox), the Omaha, Nebraska quartet intelligently reconfigures new wave with a pungent and stylish powerhouse of a sound that nods to (though, at best, only vaguely resembles the music of) Nineties groups such as Brainiac and The VSS. Their intelligently provocative punk electropop is pulsing and melodic, throbbing and hypnotic. Blasting garbled, catchy pop, singer Todd Baechle sounds soulful, affected, and completely lost in his art, especially on "Worked Up So Sexual", "Cars Pass In Cold Blood", and "Sex Is Personal" (the theme of sex being a private act and not recreation or entertainment is a re-occurring one). Since the music is rather repetitive (yet still quite complex) there are more possibilities left for melody and things on top; Todd's sharp, engaging vocals and social observations resemble, but rise above, the cold robot-man vocals of Eighties electropop. The music can be confrontational, particularly live where the group performs with bright, flashing lights while nearly encircled by equipment. Though not utilizing guerilla tactics like Throbbing Gristle or Psychic TV, The Faint possess the rare ability to shake listeners from their acquiescence. With Blank-Wave Arcade, The Faint are celebrating technology through synthesized music, and it results in one of the most stimulating and innovative albums of the year, not to mention an infectiously catchy one.
Blank-wave Arcade

Blank-wave Arcade

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