Dec 10, 2008 at 12:00 am

The faint has always been a band seeking a higher-consciousness while wading around in the shallow waters of synth-pop. Riding a wave of '80s nostalgia, they've used danceable electronic beats as a subterfuge for their potent and topical lyrics. The same strategy is employed on Fasciinatiion, their first CD since leaving Saddle Creek Records for the greener pastures of their own blank.wav label. They've shed the lush symphonic strings and punk influence of their last release Wet From Birth and in its place tapped into more computerized and industrial sounds.

Never shy when it comes to a composition, the Faint's music is sonically complex. Guitars and synthesizers meld together with infectious driving drums. And Fasciination is even more ambitious. Every note sounds tweaked and warped, giving the songs an almost inhuman or mechanical edge. Adding to the cold and clinical feeling are the vocals of frontman Todd Fink, vocodered almost into the realm of sci-fi robot.

All of it makes for a great medium for their lyrics which focus on our world's shaky foundation. This time out, the guys tackle celebrity and our need for all things tabloid ("Get Seduced"), relationship meltdowns ("Psycho," "I Treat You Wrong") and lost childhood innocence ("Fulcrum and Lever"). The best track, however, is the closer, "A Battle Hymn for Children," which is a sobering observation of a man's journey before, during and after becoming a soldier. And that's the great thing about Fasciinatiion. It gets the listener to tap toes, bounce to a beat and maybe even think a little about the current state of the nation.

Monday, Dec. 15, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-9700.

Paul Knoll writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].