faint_LEAD

The Faint are probably best known as “that band that Conor Oberst was in briefly once upon a time.” Their second claim to fame is as average participants in indie-dance’s time shared in the spotlight with emo/post-hardcore, circa early 2000s. Or, if you’re like one dumbass writer I know (ahem), you avoided them like the plague because you got them mixed up with The Fray (sorry, adult contemporary crowd).

Regardless, none of these descriptors are accurate anymore on Doom Abuse – you could argue that there’s an ‘indie dance’ sound threaded throughout, but they’ve also branched out to synth-punk, sonic experimentation, melodic ugliness clashing with harmonic catchiness and vice versa. Lyricist Todd Fink’s traded his former, over-sexualized Panic! at the Disco shtick for conspiracy theories, paranoia, telepathic gadgets and general dark thoughts. It’s got its weak spots, but its hits make for some of the freshest, most exciting music to come out yet this year.

Help in the Head

The noise-shred opening caves into a fuzzy Guy Ritchie soundtrack sort of dance jam, with lyricist Todd Fink doing bouncing between sassy teasing and grandiose politics. The snare groove reminds of the later “Salt My Doom,” but the track’s heavier on industrial effects than riffs: [LISTEN]

"Help in the Head"

Mental Radio

The melodic nod to “Hash Pipe” shows another track with brilliant sound FX and synth flourishes that outshine the somewhat boring central riff. It’s enough energy for a live setting, though, as Fink takes blurs the line between hypothetical telepathic technology and our plugged-in culture: [LISTEN]

"Mental Radio"

Evil Voices

Ghosts (or auditory hallucinations) give the narrator a false sense of security over a dark-synth-tinted “Reptilia” treatment. Still, the paranoid drive is closer to confrontational and punk than past releases, even with the electronic hi-hat drum drops: [LISTEN]

"Evil Voices"

Salt My Doom

Mixing these guys up with The Fray made this skronky listen a pleasant surprise. The pounding four on the floor (and snare), dissonantly catchy synths, and bouncy urgency match the “GIVE IT TO ME!” sentiment to make for a freaky-ass party. Phenomenal comeback from a six-year silence: [LISTEN]

"Salt My Doom"

Animal Needs

It’s worth pointing out the Morissette version of irony inherent in the tech-heavy sound of this track, which aims to remind that technology is pointless because we’re only animals. From GPS to religious “sermons,” everything societal is unnecessary, which is often true: [LISTEN]

"Animal Needs"

Loss of Head

Fink’s anxieties both past and future are wrapped up in a more typical indie dance-pop fashion, somewhat similar to a few past tracks but with more aggressive, Octopus Project chords and a bit of Reggie and the Full Effect synth tone thrown in – pleasing to both dancers and listeners: [LISTEN]

"Loss of Head"

Dress Code

Taking jabs at both indie and yuppie fashion, Madonna-esque superficiality, and the financial industry with over-the-top, new-wave weirdness, “Dress Code” plays like an upbeat, Devo-inspired “Fitter, Happier” teetering on the brink of silliness: [LISTEN]

"Dress Code"

Scapegoat

The disco-WK skewers a self-centered, manipulative prick in this romp that dances the line between cheesy and fun – like you’d expect anything resembling Andrew WK might be, as well as disco. Luckily it leans heavily towards fun: [LISTEN]

"Scapegoat"

Your Stranger

The Devo is even stronger here, as Fink’s neuroses manifest themselves once again as manic, 175-BPM disco-rock. If that’s the groove that moves your booty, you’ll appreciate it, but it’s one of the less-interesting bits on the record: [LISTEN]

"Your Stranger"

Lesson from the Darkness

Fink’s melodies and voice occasionally remind of Fear Before’s Dave Marion on “…Doesn’t Listen to People Who Don’t Like Them.” Another uptempo, subtly industrial jam sees Fink learning from negative (or “dark”) aspects of life, but it doesn’t hit as hard as some tracks that influenced it: [LISTEN]

"Lesson from the Darkness"

Unseen Hand

The verse’s tight kick-bass lock and chorus’ “alien” synths all captivate your face on their own. Fink aims to uncover conspiracies and cosmic abnormalities, but the grooves used here have been burnt out earlier on this album, making this solid track bore after a full-album listen: [LISTEN]

"Unseen Hand"

Damage Control

By far this album’s poppiest track, this an ode to a clean slate from regrets that make you cringe-shudder is also the second best song here – no easy feat. While nodding to Berlin’s synth sounds, it doesn’t lean as melodic-heavily as Jamaican Queens’ “Water,” but is still unabashedly catchy: [LISTEN]

"Damage Control"