CD Review of Fasciinatiion by The Faint
Recommended if you like
Ultravox, Duran Duran, Yaz
Label
Blank.Wav
The Faint: Fasciinatiion

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

T
he Faint emerged from the unlikely environs of Omaha, Nebraska, the same scene that spawned the Saddle Creek Records roster, most notably bands like Bright Eyes and its omnipresent mainstay Connor Oberst. Oberst actually played a minor role in the Faint’s trajectory, appearing with them on record at various times and serving as a de facto mentor of sorts. Still, the band’s evolution hasn’t been so well defined, veering from the tangled, punk-infused ruminations of their earliest records to a darker, more insurgent sound that emerged later on. Their latest effort, Fasciinatiion, forsakes those two extremes, but still holds to the unsettled mélange that’s part of their signature sound.

That said, the synthesized rhythms exercised throughout Fasciinatiion’s various offerings – the aptly titled “Get Seduced” and the poppy-sounding “The Geeks Were Right” – are likely to draw closer comparisons to, say, Duran Duran and others of that ilk rather than any indie rock regulars. Likewise, the band appears headed more in the direction of pure techno, given the cosmic meanderings, bass-heavy bottom and electro-pop atmospherics that swirl through these arrangements. The driving pulse of “Psycho” and “Mirror Error” are playful and pervasive, but clearly suited more to club crawlers than the young upstarts that patronized the Faint’s music early on. They still carry some of the same elements in common – most notably, a brooding sensibility, as manifested in the worrisome “I Treat You Wrong” -- but overall, Fasciinatiion seems more concerned with ambiance than outlook. The stutter and stomp of “Machine in the Ghost” and “Fulcrum and Lever” (yes, it seems they’re intent on making their song titles as cryptic as their content!) restrains the momentum, suggesting that these are songs to get past rather than tracks that encourage listeners to linger.

The Faint

Indeed, hearing a song like “Forever Growing Centipedes” brings back echoes of the ‘80s, when bands like Yaz, Depeche Mode, Ultravox and, dare we say, the Human League held sway. That suggests the notion that the Faint indeed are still stretching their parameters and incorporating some unlikely influences in the process. That’s admirable in theory, but unfortunately, what emerges as a result is a sound that’s distinctly dated, one that’s been rehashed countless times by bands on both sides of the Atlantic. True, the Faint may not be as giddy or perky as some of those with pure dance intents, but given their determination to pursue a persistent groove, it’s hard to consider this serious listening either. Which makes Fasciinatiion seem somewhat sketchy when it comes to measuring up to its moniker.

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