The Feint

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Released 28th April 2014 via

SQE Music

Do you remember ten years ago when most dancefloors were not filled with wubs and hi-hatatatatatatatatat trap nonsense, but with disco drumbeats and dirty bass guitars? I'm not talking about 70's disco, but rather that rise of alternative "indie" electronic fuzz and throb that took over every radio station, shop and advertisement on TV. The Faint laid the groundwork for that genre back in the 90's and continued right through until, well, it stopped being popular. Perhaps I tuned out, but it seemed that the captain had gone down with his ship, until suddenly 'Help In The Head' crashed into reality. So, The Faint are back with a new album Doom Abuse and it's fuzzier than a buss full of rabid badgers.

'Help In The Head' really is the ideal leading single, and album opener, for a band who's been brooding under the radar of many for so long. As a song it's demanding and relentless; full of alarming noise bursts and bass eruptions. It's just what you need to shake the world up a bit: strobe lighting, concrete walls and sweaty people stamping like animals.

'Mental Radio' follows the song, containing the theme of crazy stuff, but doesn't bolster muscle or drive in the same way as 'Help In The Head'. In fact, when the deliciously Skinny Puppy-infused 'Evil Voices' jumps in it makes you wonder why they didn't just skip over straight into that instead. The song is upbeat, catchy and bull nuts mental crazy. One thing the group seem to have really embraced in this album is a deeper exploration of vocal processing by means of vocoders and other unusual effects, and it works very very well. 'Animal Needs' is another brilliant Skinny Puppy homage that could easily have been buried in amongst last year's Weapon with nobody even blinking an eyelid.

There are of course also moments of reminiscence in Doom Abuse that might kickstart the nostalgia for old fans. The album's central triptych 'Loss of Head' / 'Dress Code' / 'Scapegoat', while holding no apparent relation to each other, holds a much rawer freak-rock throwback feel harking to the group's earlier material. In three motions the band covers exactly their purpose and the reason for their long-standing career:

'Loss of Head' is a teen pop-anthem, ready for The Robot, glowsticks and a plethora of other things you're now too old for (sorry, dear reader). 'Dress Code' is a frantic bloopy computer-glitch, that seems to explore nothing but the sound of data corruption personified. Finally, 'Scapegoat' is, well, a punk song…. or as close as you can expect The Faint to have ever been to punk. The songs work well sandwiched between the more stomping chaos of the albums beginning, and some of the more exploratory tunes at its end.

These closing tracks to Doom Abuse, while not venturing too far from the rest of the record are noteworthy when plucked out and examined. 'Lesson from the Darkness' is more 80's Atari 2600 GYRUS than rock band; it could be argued that few other bands are able to pull chiptune out of the arcade and display it to such a wide audience, except maybe Crystal Castles. 'Unseen Hand', while on appearance holds a close similarity to the rest of the record drive a different rhythm and works as the final last gasp before one of the real treats: closer-track 'Damage Control'. The album's closer shows a more slightly more sophisticated side of The Faint that doesn't need to be constantly blistering your ears. 'Damage Control' floats through a hazy smog, with a remarkable similarity to 'AMOK' by Atoms For Peace (also the closing track to their album of spluttering insanity) and works incredibly well as a twisted sort of deflation to a record that's been full of hot air since the second it began. The blooped synth-melody, along with the android vocals continues to keep distance between the band and listener, but behind everything it remains clear that there's a great song in there; honest and human.

Doom Abuse is a welcome return by The Faint, compiling everything one would expect from a group that have made is so far through fairly small steps of evolution. Some bands simply don't require such radical change as others do, and instead opt for a slower more steady evolution that you find only in reflection and hindsight.

Equally, this album carries a similar oddity on reflection: on first listen Doom Abuse is bold and demanding, which ultimately leaves a huge first impression. But, with every listen, certain songs begin to jade quickly while the focus remains on the clear standouts, leaving the impression that maybe some of the excess should have just been cut down to b-sides leaving an overall shorter, but stronger record. With recurring melodies and rhythms outside a clear concept, an album can sometimes become unimaginative or, well, repetitive. Regardless of this petty qualm, Doom Abuse is huge… it's ugly… it's charming in places, but most of all it's most definitely The Faint. So... where've you been boys? having a sleep?!

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