The Faint - Wet From Birth

It would be perfect music for those documentaries on satellite showing people from Ohio with surprising choices of haircut building cars out of rubbish.

 

Aah, now here is a name to conjure with at present. The Faint, a band who you can smugly converse about at 'informal' dinner parties, or at the cafe bar. After all, you will reason, does this name dropping not prove that you are safely ensconced in the ranks of the cognescenti? And the Faint, they're supposed to be good, right? Well, far be it from me to be a Savonarola here, but if you are happy to believe that this is cutting edge music, then I despair for you.

 

Wet From Birth has its moments, very few creative endeavours don't, but I find it nonetheless rather samey, empty, shallow and lacking in soul. It is also so damn serious and worthy; infused with a moralizing tone not too far away from Puritan. Libraries for the miners and all that. The sort of band you can imagine George Orwell and F.R Leavis forming in the 1930s. The band seem to be inviting you to dance, only to put you off with an implicit insistence that you dance seriously whilst bearing in mind the themes that each of the songs address.

 

Okay, before I get thoroughly bored writing this, here are the highlights I listed. "I Disappear" breaks away from the existentialist gloom to deliver a thumping beat and singable chorus. "Erection" mentions the word erection broodily a few times before thumping off to pontificate somewhere else, reminding me of a politician talking about the Terrorist Threat on daytime tv. "Paranoia Attack" by contrast, just gets on with being a dance track (to its eternal credit). "Drop Kick the Pinks" I found monotonous and repetitive. It would be perfect music for those documentaries on satellite showing people from Ohio with surprising choices of haircut building cars out of rubbish. "Phone Call", an attempt at a more intimate number, falls down due to the lack of emotional involvement from the band. And, at this stage into listening to the recording, me.

 

What I'm trying to say, despite the yawning, is that amongst all the mid 1980s gloss, the nods to Yello, ACR and New Order, it feels dreadfully emotionally stunted; enslaved to a doctrine that denies all human foibles, imperfections and sensibilities. In a word, robotic. It is also bloody short at 34 minutes, maybe a testament to the lack of emotional nutriton that was fed it. Wet from Birth? Still-born more like...

 

Words: Richard Foster