Reviews

Blank-wave Arcade

Author: Silke Tudor
06/27/2001 | SF Weekly | sfweekly.com | Live Show Preview
During the late '70s and early '80s, new wave was the catch-all phrase used to describe anything that wasn't punk rock but was still vaguely interesting. Later, with the crush of MTV wonders like Duran Duran, Culture Club, the Thompson Twins, and Flock of Seagulls, the term just stood for synthesizers and haircuts. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And even if there were, The Faint probably wouldn't give two figs. The Omaha, Neb., quartet almost prides itself on being slightly uncool: Its members like to dance at other bands' shows, they like to dance at their own shows, and they probably wouldn't deny a lingering appreciation of the Human League.

Like the early, Kraftwerk-influenced League or the short-lived band the Normal, the Faint has a penchant for danceable electronic pop songs played in minor keys with dark themes. On the suggestively titled Blank Wave Arcade, synthesizers are the flesh and bones onto which everything else clings, including the slightly pinched, Anglo-compliant vocals of Todd Baechle and the trigger-and-sampler-rich drumming of his younger brother Clark Baechle. Even so, there is nothing cold or sterile about Blank Wave Arcade. The music bounces with sweaty, human effervescence before plunging into pools of guitar that keep us floating in this millennium, if only just barely. Compared to the lyrics of most original new wave acts, Baechle's thoughtful ruminations on the nature of casual sex, strippers, ambulance chasing, cultural apathy, and escapism are psychological masterpieces, but that shouldn't get in the way of the petulant delight of the music.
Blank-wave Arcade

Blank-wave Arcade

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