With Danse Macabre, the follow-up to 1999's breakthrough Blank-Wave Arcade, The Faint has refined its dark synth-punk sound (equally fit for a funeral procession and American Bandstand) with slicker production, heavier keyboards and delicate cello accompaniment. As the band moves even further away from traditional instrumentation, guitars are now almost completely absent, replaced by an array of keyboard blips and throbs. Alongside the barrage of synth sounds, vocal distortion and cello are used to create a more calculated, fuller sound than on previous efforts. Todd Baechle's vocals are hauntingly affecting and blend ominously into the dour sonic landscape. The Nebraskan quintet has also shifted its lyrical theme to the dark side: while Arcade was littered with youthful references to sex and cars, Danse Macabre creates a considerably more wicked tone. Tracks like "Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat" and "Posed To Death" highlight the contrast suggested by the album's title - despite lyrics full of morbid imagery, they are immensely catchy and danceable. The Faint continues to push the envelope, creating smart music that refuses to sit quietly in one genre or be pigeonholed. On the cheekily-titled track "Your Retro Career Melted", the group sums up its future with one simple lyric: "The crowd just seemed to multiply."