I Meant To Listen To: The Faint, “Danse Macabre”

In preparation for writing/reviewing this album, I have been overwhelmed almost to the point of some acute version of writing paralysis to come up with some sort of angle to approach this album. I mean, I tried to set up guidelines as to why I selected these albums to write about. I had to have a reason why this was in my digital collection, but in reality I don’t know why. I doubt I ripped the CD from a previous relationship, but then again, she probably would have listened to something like this.

I could write about the first time listening to them, but, again, I don’t know where I had first heard of the Faint. Maybe they remixed a Nine Inch Nails song?

After some quick scrolling – that might be it! In 2007, The Faint, along with several others artists, remixed tracks from NIN’s Year Zero album. Titled Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D (Year Zero Remixed), this compilation opened my ears to Saul Williams and Ladytron, amongst others. It was more than likely here that I got my first taste of The Faint.

Danse Macabre was the first album I heard of that was described as Dance-Punk. I’m sure that term was used before I came across it, but it is an extremely fitting description, especially in the age of obscure-yet-strangely-specific genres. As described, it is incredibly dance-y, yet everything has a tinge of something unsettling. It’s in the air with this static energy. It feels like it’s something that might scold you from wanting to move around, but it’s nearly impossible to sit still while listening to this. The album bounces all over the place with spastic synth bursts sharply piercing rocksteady beats and sweetly thick bass rhythms.

It’s very clear to hear the Nine Inch Nails influence, as well as flavors of Kraftwerk and New Order (“The Conductor” and “Violent”). You could imagine some of these tracks possibly as remixes of tracks from Dance-Punk pioneers The Cars or Devo (“Total Job” and “Posed To Death“). In fact, imagining this album as something that may have been covers or remixes of songs I haven’t heard of made me appreciate Dance Macabre and The Faint so much better, if that makes any sense.

This has me thinking, Dance-Punk pioneers? Is that a thing now? Is that different than New Wave? This is a whole new can of worms!

The Faint have been steadily putting out albums over their 20-year career. In fact, their latest work, titled Egowerk, is slated for a release this month. If the pre-released tracks are any indication, this too exemplifies their signature sound of heavy flowing grooves with an aura of imminent danger.

It took me many listens to actually break through whatever was blocking my path and ultimately the answer was right in front of me. It just took my own personal dance of death to rattle some things loose.

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