I’ve been tailing The Faint for a couple of weeks now, as Metromix asked for an interview and a review. Not a problem, as I’m down with any band, even one making dark dance music, that starts its own label and releases songs about sci-fi, war and nerds. The fruits of my labor have ripened at last on Metromix. Tune in, read up, nerd out.
The artist formerly known as Todd Baechle has spent over a decade churning out jagged dance music with the Faint, the Nebraska-based band formerly known as Norman Bailer. As early champions of the region’s Saddle Creek label, the group and its recently renamed leader, Todd Fink, have helped to bring their scene national recognition. They’ve created enough stir to build a new studio, called Enamel, and to self-release a new album, Fasciinatiion, on their label, blank.wav (lowercase only, please). These dudes are unconventional like that. How unconventional? Todd lost the Baechle and took his wife’s last name after marrying former Azure Ray siren Orenda Fink.
“My parents didn’t really like it,” Fink confesses, “but you have to do what you want to do, not what everybody wants you to do.”
Good advice, but can he take it? He’s being tested now, especially by Faint loyalists who want him to get back to blasting dance tracks about sex and parties, rather than war and peace, as he does on the new “Fasciinatiion” track “A Battle Hymn for Children.” Throw in the Faint’s newfound independence—a risky move, Fink admits—and you have a cerebral synth-funk band waking up to its future.
“When I saw the future/The geeks were right,” Fink digitally raps on “The Geeks Were Right,” setting the table for this album’s examination of the meatspace merge. “Machine in the Ghost” hopscotches across religion and black magic with sardonic self-satisfaction, backed up neatly by eight-bit funk. The stilted introspection of a jilted lover on “I Treat You Wrong” tumbles along poignantly, while the medium distortion of “Forever Growing Centipedes” supports the domestic optimism of lines like “We can grow up to 150/But now we are children together.” “A Battle Hymn for the Children” is a warning with mature insight: “In the name of peace, we make war,” Fink drones, all grown up. Hey, you can’t live at the disco forever.