The Faint – “Fasciinatiion” (2008)

Off the top of my head I can’t name any bands from Nebraska. When I try to envision the kind of band I would expect to come from there it’s some kind of hard rock or metal outfit, and not a quasi-new-wave-electro-dance-synth-pop band like The Faint. Sorry. My bad.

Fasciinatiion was a truly random pick-up. I found a new still wrapped copy in with the used records at my local Half Price Books store hidden in the middle of the “F” section along with the obligatory used copies of various albums by Foreigner and Flock of Seagulls. What is this, and how did it get here? Hell if I know, but I had some store credit so I thought I’d check it out.

The dudes in The Faint had been putting out albums for a decade when they released Fasciinatiion in 2008 and it shows – despite the stilted poppy style of their music, it has all the precision you’d expect from a group that is no stranger to the studio and understands their sound. The music is hard to describe – there’s a sort of basic electronic sound that isn’t so much lo-fi as it is low tech. It feels like it could have just as easily been made with the electronic instrumentation and sounds available from big Casio keyboards in the 1980s, with lots of buzzing and voice modulation thrown in. Nowhere does this whole experience come together better than on “Fulcrum and Lever,” a bizarre track that has a lot going on and reminds me more than a bit of Ghostland Observatory (<- I just tried to link to Ghostland figuring I absolutely must have written about one of their albums… and I haven’t, which was surprising to me) with its trippy sounding vocals and rocking electronic beat.

This is an odd record. When I pay attention to it I find myself getting a little annoyed – the breaks are fast and jarring in a way that gives many songs a consistent beat, but not a smooth flow, and the lyrics seem kind of a bit overly pretentiously serious.

How rad is it living in a microscope,
Broadcast in every single living room?
— “Get Seduced”

Predator skills,
Chemical wars,
Plastic islands at sea,
Watch the humans ruin with machines.
— “The Geeks Were Right”

But when my attention wanders just a little bit and I stop really listening to the words my toe starts to tap and my head bobs and I find myself getting into it. It’s available on iTunes for only $7.99, so you can sample some of the songs there and see if this is your thing. I’m not sure if it’s mine, but there’s enough here that I think I’ll be coming back to check it out again at some point.