Danse Macabre

Oct 10, 2001 at 12:00 am

Dance-music makers may have bodies in mind when constructing their records, but the Faint takes that notion to its illogical extreme. The Lincoln, Neb.-based band’s aptly titled third long-player, Danse Macabre, isn’t just made for bodies, it’s made of bodies: Torsos, limbs, jaws, tongues, throats and hands populate the album’s New Wave redux, as do paralysis, diseases, deaths, manikins and babies. So while the synths may go start-stop-start like Depeche Mode’s best (read: pre-1991) moments, actually dancing to this ridiculously danceable album feels a little too much like bumping and grinding to the fading beep-bleeps of a heart monitor. It’s that dark.

It’s also that danceable. And, truth be told, Depeche Mode rarely sounded as move-inducing as the Faint does on the fast-forward retro-futurism of “Glass Danse,” “Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat” and “Your Retro Career Melted.” The moody, brooding world inside Danse Macabre is so bleak and emotionally detached, however, that dancing to the Faint isn’t recreation so much as a survival tactic: Vocalist Todd Baechle’s lyrics tell us that day-to-day drone work wears and tears on the body, so we gotta move it or lose it. “The low end thaws your anxious body.”

So call it musical Marxism for the dance floor. Based loosely around the Faint’s concept that the bodies described throughout its songs are casualties of cutthroat economics, Danse Macabre makes the case that we gotta dance to reconnect with our disconnected selves in the numbing “real cold world.” The politically minded Faint isn’t interested merely in hip whipping so much as dancing-as-resistance, however, and it knows that sometimes the only way to “contest it all” is to escape to the clubs. And with the band’s latest album, it has constructed a near-perfect, socially conscious dance track, so who’s got the body that rocks the Faint’s party?

The Faint performs Sunday, Oct. 14 at Magic Stick.

E-mail Jimmy Draper at [email protected].