By Reed Fischer
By Anna Gulbrandsen
By Jeff Gage
By Stacy Schwartz
By Natalie Gallagher
By Erik Thompson
By Jeff Gage
By Loren Green
Wet From Birth
Saddle Creek Records
The Faint never cared much for subtlety. Whether their topic du jour was sex, the plight of oppressed laborers, or sex, you always knew what they were singing about. And since their lyrics were delivered over the danciest of dark electro beats, you usually didn't care.
The group's fourth album doesn't have such an easily pinned down theme, but it does make the pale pride of Omaha sound a little more self-aware. Within the first minute of "Desperate Guys," lead singer Todd Baechle is already revealing the secrets of his trademark pickup act: "I was acting indifferent at the merch booth putting on makeup."
The black eyeliner should be familiar to fans, and so is most of their new material. The prowling hipster on that first track has shown up on past albums. The growl and bounce of "Paranoiattack" makes references to duct tape and mysterious powder on envelopes. Though that track feels a little dated, the Faint try out a few new tricks on "Drop Kick the Punks," a dance-punk number that chooses guitars over synths.
The notably catchy "Southern Belles in London Sing," sounds like a Smiths cover punched up with violin interludes and a distant ghost chorus provided by Azure Ray. It's a shame that this album highlight is immediately followed by a song so embarrassingly gauche. "Erection" is an ode to the obvious, referring to their titular focus as "the sound of a sword," "the cock of a rifle," and "a monument in the park." Plus, once the arena-stomp beat reminds you of pedophiliac rocker Gary Glitter, you've got a whole new set of unpleasantries to think about.
But that's just one song. A little tactlessness is something the Faint thrive on, and Wet from Birth is uncharacteristically low in the vulgarity department. Unless, of course, you're grossed out by the mucus-covered bloodbath described in the title track, but come on, that's natural.