The Faint - Danse Macabre
Todd Baechle - Vocals, Keyboard
Joel Peterson - Bass
Clark Baechle - Drums
Jacob Thiele - Synthesizer
Mike Dappen (Dapose) - Guitar
The Faint formed in 1994, originally under the name Norman Bailer, and performing light rock. Up until 1998 The Faint released a couple of songs which went rather unnoticed, and then their debut album 'Media'. The tracks on 'Media differed greatly as the band was struggling to find the right sound. The band were looking for a more live-driven sound, and enlisted full time synth player Jacob Thiele, who highly influenced the direction of their second release: 'Blan Wave Arcade' (1999). This was an ultimately electronic and synth driven record.
After touring endlessly for BLA, The Faint returned in 2001 with the 2nd part to the 'trilogy' (Blank Wave Arcade was about sex, Danse Macabre
is about death, and the upcoming album 'Wet From Birth' focuses mainly on, well, birth). It seemed the guys were working backwards at this point, as this album is heavier and slightly more guitar driven, with hints of string sections.
Anyway, on to the review...
The first time I heard the first track on the album (and the first single), "Agenda Suicide", I was blown away. Endless amounts of comparisons to endless amounts of 80's dark synth pop bands have been made, and are well worthy, but I find it to be something of a step forward.
The album starts out hitting you hard with Agenda Suicide, and grabs you with probably the best indicator of what's going to be floating around it later on. The flow of the album is fantastic, as it is constantly striking you, but still keeps ups and downs, by way, for example, of a stripped back drum part (Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat), or a pumped up techno-ish crazy electronic beat (Glass Danse).
The best track on the album for me is "Posed to Death", as it keeps the middle part of the album level, and serves to bring you down for the more epic size of the last 3 tracks. The intro to this song is brilliant. The last 2 tracks are absolutely standout songs, and serve as a sort of bring down, with slow synth parts and cello introductions.
The lyrics on the album focus mainly and almost completely on death, and some would argue; drugs. The dark nature of the music backing these lyrics fits it so well. My favourite lyrics come in Agenda Suicide, being about having a pre designed life and pointless purpose. Lines like "The drones work hard before they die, and give up on pretty little homes", and "like a father's dream, have a cut out son, what's the worst disease?" catch me every time.
To put it simply, The Faint are a band who know when to be dead serious, and when to screw around. On 'Blank Wave Arcade', the songs had a more dancy vibe, and the lyrics were much less head on (as the album was mainly about sex, and casual relationships), but on Danse Macabre, Todd Baechle has strengthened up and poured out everything lyrically.
The worst thing about this album is that, to some people, it can get too much to listen to some of the tracks too much. I would go as far as to call this a mood record, to listen to when you're upbeat, but it can be quite good to listen to all the time,as I have found.
I love this album. 4.8/5
I would recommend this album to anyone who wants something with a bit of bite. Great to listen to in so many situations. Buy it.