The Faint
Fasciinatiion


2.5
average

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
August 4th, 2008 | 23 replies | 20,499 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Faint's retro career has melt-melt-melt-melted.

The Faint - Fasciinatiion

The Faint, after starting off as a run-of-the-mill Saddle Creek indie artist, transformed their sound into electronic dance punk with disco beats and dark, industrial atmospherics. Essentially, they're a huge influence on artists like Blaqk Audio that thrive on being "alternative" dance music, though The Faint have always had their own edge and vibe that set them apart. A key component of this aura is that the slinky sexiness of mixing dance sounds with industrial sounds was echoed in the lyrics. Blank Wave Arcade is so laden with sexual content, and Danse Macabre with violent imagery, that they feel like concept albums in their own strange ways. Even better is that like the music, the line between sexuality and violence was blurred on that larger, conceptual level. Every moment of sexiness on Blank Wave Arcade is altered by inkdrops of violence, perversion, obsession, and prostitution, and every moment of violence on Danse Macabre is handled with allure, excitement, and pleasure, suggesting that on a musical level, and a conceptual level, there is an interplay between the sexiness of dance music and the dark violence of punk and industrial that works. A raved out synth line playing an eerie harmonic minor melody can be the synergy of those two worlds. Their follow-up album, Wet From Birth failed because it lost that correlation. The album was all about birth, which itself is a strangely visceral part of the world of sex, but the music was not a realization of that. The best tracks were curiously unlike The Faint, as in the dotted violin refrain on "Desperate Guys," and the ones that seemed to invoke birth the best (placental synth melodies and nascent drum machine beats? not so much...) really didn't do the trick, and could be straight-up boring and gimmicky.

Fasciinatiion is The Faint's fourth LP to bear the mark of their distinctive sound, and its lyrical focus is much more broad and can't be boiled down to an abstract noun like "sex" or "birth." The album immediately involves all of the previous concepts with song titles like "Fish in a Womb," "Psycho," and "Get Seduced," as if all three of their previous albums were pointing to a larger, umbrella concept. The resulting focus is a multifarious gloss of modern and futuristic culture that is handled with a definite cynicism. Even the title "Fasciinatiion" reads as a purposeful misspelling of a word that normally captures both excitement and optimism, as well as fear and cynicism. So once again, The Faint are dealing with blurred divisions and reinterpretations of typical emotional and musical devices, but this time the concept is a lot more opaque and varied, and as a result, the music is also all over the place.

The actual sound of Fasciinatiion is a sonic expansion from their previous releases. There are the typical vampiric synth lines against reverby vocals and industrial disco beats, but there is a lot more variety around that foundation. "Fish in a Womb" is a warm, fuzzy track, feeling almost like a kooky version of a Postal Service song, as if handled by a Jamie Stewart or a Richard D. James. "Machine in the Ghost" has the same poppiness in its chord progressions with the appropriate upbeat synth tones to go along. However, the lyrics belie the catchiness of the track. In the chorus, singer Todd Fink says in his robot chirp, "the crystal ball / the fear of god / the tarot cards / the dousing rod" giving a foreboding, fated feel to the electronics of the song, transforming them from a head-bopping electro pop track to a beguiling industrial march towards some kind of evil futuristic dystopia. On Fasciinatiion, The Faint seem once again concerned with the way they can mangle their electronic tones with lyrics to change fundamentally alter the tone, message, and aesthetic of their music in a way that was lacking from Wet From Birth.

However, that foundation that I glossed over at the beginning of the last paragraph has its own problems. While the new variety allows for a cool manifestation of the leitmotif at work on Fasciinatiion, the old sounds are starting to sound campy and annoying. The vocals on "Fulcrum and Lever" are so compressed and phased out that they sound like a tasteless use of vocoder rather than vocals. The bass line is repetitious and noisome with its warbling electronic texture and there's a repeated, synth line that suffers from an awkward instance of chinoiserie. The repeated semitone accompaniment sounds like a sample from Punjabi MC's "Welcome to India." No joke. The trade off for continuing to include new ideas and messing with new lyrical concepts means that the trademark Faint songwriting tricks have been neglected, and as a result sound kitschy.

And that's the problem with this album. It has great ideas brewing, but there are tons of bells and whistles in the production that upstage the songwriting, which admittedly is weaker than usual for The Faint. There are no tracks that bump as much as "Call Call" and "Your Retro Career Has Melted" and at the end of the day, most people are listening to new wave electro punk for the fun songwriting rather than the aesthetic constructs of the music. These songs have a lot of detail and are compelling in theory, but the actual manifestation lies somewhere between intelligent pyschobabble and boring electro pop songwriting. We all want to like The Faint's sophisticated intent but the schtick wears thin.



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user ratings (55)
Chart.
3
good
other reviews of this album
Rudy K. STAFF (3)
The Faint are still pros at crafting innovative electronica-rock that is more dance-y than most cont...

MIRAI87 (4.5)
The Faint delivers a gem with their newest album Fasciinatiion, coupling their unique electronic/ind...


Comments:Add a Comment 
The Jungler
August 4th 2008



4827 Comments


certain singles off all the faint albums i've heard (first three, including the non-electronic one) rule, but the albums themselves aren't too great. for that reason, coupled with your negative review, i probably won't listen to this.

Metalikane
August 4th 2008



851 Comments


I was hoping this album would be good, but nope. It sucks.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 4th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

OH ya official stream is available on myspace!

http://www.myspace.com/thefaint

gasmaskman
August 4th 2008



1006 Comments


I've only listened to Danse Macabre, and that was pretty good, but the band doesn't interest me much.

brandtweathers
August 5th 2008



2007 Comments


damn

AggravatedYeti
August 5th 2008



7684 Comments


these guys suck, doesn't surprise me.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 5th 2008



17204 Comments


what the hell happened to these guys? this is a real let down.

astrel
August 5th 2008



2614 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I really like The Faint, but this was complete garbage.

Granfalloon
August 6th 2008



176 Comments


awww - i was looking forward to this, there go my hopes and dreams

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 6th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Still give it a listen. It's up for free on their myspace.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 6th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Also, a 6.0 is sort of positive right?

http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/142810-the-faint-fasciinatiion


Jom
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2008



2667 Comments


When I last checked they got a 66 on Metacritic, which is considered 'generally favorable' there, so that seems on point with what I've read so far. I don't know if they added more reviews to the mean or not, but that seems even with what I was expecting.This Message Edited On 08.06.08

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
August 7th 2008



16083 Comments


Considering pitchfork considers liking an album something like a 7.2-7.6, and that 66's on metacritic are generally low end, ehhhhhhh

Eliminator
August 7th 2008



2067 Comments


*p4k

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 7th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well metacritic needs to be adjusted. Notice how there are no "red" albums. There is a positive skew when the lowest album is a 43 and the highest is a 90. Spreading it out, the album fits much closer to the 50 mark than you'd initially think.

Zebra
Moderator
August 8th 2008



2647 Comments


I've never really liked the Faint and have little desire to check this out. To me their music has always sounded like an awkward mix of dance and punk that's neither danceable or interesting.

parvenu
August 8th 2008



19 Comments


how would you know if it's danceable?

DFelon204409
Emeritus
August 8th 2008



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Because he knows how to break it down on the dancefloor.

RandMcNally
August 14th 2008



158 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I dont think ive EVER been so let down with an album in my life!

Danse Macabre is one of my favourite albums, a moments in Wet From Birth were genius, but this is like another band, i think The Faint have been lobotomised!

This is dull, awkward, monotonous and not a bit dancable. The music is by no way awful, but it is not The Faint i know and love...soooo disappointed

noe55
August 14th 2008



1 Comments


Aw, that sucks, I was really looking forward to this one and their new single got a rave review here: http://www.spoonfed.co.uk/spooners/music-team-2636/new-releases-18-aug-411/ I just assumed this album was going to be good. Damn.



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