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The Faint – Wet From Birth

I’ll have you know I thought I was in nouveau Euro-dance-beat heaven the first time I discovered The Faint. The hearty combo of solid ‘80s synth dance beats with a modern millennial rock sound tickled my fancy right when I needed it. When I found out, recently, that The Faint hail from Nebraska of all places, oozing over the country thanks to the folks at Saddle Creek Records, my primitive intellect could not—did not— understand. This whole time I had thought they were some über-trans-continental marvel, and all the while they were rockin’ in Cornhusker basements a mere state away.


A far stretch from the days of Norman Bailer (the band circa 1994, when Conor Oberst was still a part of the group), The Faint have finally released yet another album, Wet From Birth. Despite the abstinence inducing images of newborn babies and placenta that pop into my head, these Midwestern gents have created another astonishingly beat heavy record. According to Joel Petersen (bass, guitar, vocals), “On Wet From Birth we wanted to approach things more from an individual song basis. We wanted to take each song and not have to fit it under this umbrella of a certain lyrical or musical idea and just wanted to take each song and let it be what it could be— whether it actually made sense or we thought it sounded like our band or not. We wanted to take this little baby song and let grow into a nice adult.”

This album is consistently brooding, dark, maybe even tinged with goth, yet lighthearted and fun at the same time. Tracks like “Disappear” reflect the band’s evolution with spastic dance beats that are a little less Franz Ferdinand and a little more Joy Division on an electronica binge. “Southern Belles in London Sing” similarly is a little less poppy than the group’s previous hits, like say “Posed to Death,” from their last release, Danse Macabre.

One of the best tracks on the album, “Erection,” not only carries a slower but solidly engaging beat, the lyrics of Todd Baechle are tongue-in-cheek and hilarious. “It boiled up like a tower/ a monument in the park/ it’s the cock of a rifle/ a memory in the dark/ you tried to keep it a secret/ and how the world’s gonna know/ you tried for perfection/ erection.” Come on; tell me it’s not funny! In addition to the inevitable humor, the track keeps your foot tapping.

When asked to describe the band’s sound, Petersen says “ Well, if it’s [to] someone, let’s say, like my grandmother, I would probably just say you know we kinda play sorta danceable rock music. I tend to hear Jacob (Thiele, synthesizer and vocals) say ‘dance music for punks.’ Yeah, I think that one works.”

“Paranoiattack,” and “Symptom Finger” sound like an electronic lizard tongue lapping up flies; underground dance music with a tinge of Bowie. While mostly enjoyable, the band’s decision to create a record that seems to focus on one major sound leads to burnout before the record is over. Over halfway through the record, I get to the point where I’ve had enough, and I have to stop and come back to it later.

But in the end the payoff has been what’s made the band happy, in terms of making a living making music. Petersen is thankful: “We have made the conscious choice of quitting our crappy day jobs in order to do art and to make music with our time and I’m really happy we all made that choice. I think we’re much happier people even though we are poor, but you know to us that’s not what it’s all about…it’s about doing what we can creatively with our time while we have it.”

You can quit your crappy day job, too and come see The Faint play at the Ogden on Tuesday, November 2nd. All ages.


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