Saddle Creek/City Slang - 2003 - 37 minutes

The cover design is modish Eighties cut'n'paste. The first track kicks off with a electronic rumble. Then the punky guitar riff and clanging drum machine kick in. The Faint have bought a one-way ticket to 80sville, and this studied retro excursion rarely strays from its rigid New Wave blueprint.

The Faint used to be an unremarkable US rock band. Then they revamped their sound in a thoroughly nostalgic style. Goodbye third-rate grunge, hello zeitgeist.

It's a ploy that begs derision. Recent experiences with 1980s nostalgia acts have been mixed to say the least. The Strokes might have recycled Blondie's turn of the decade pop-punk quite delectably, but super-hyped synth duo Fischerspooner seemed more Sigue Sigue Sputnik than Suicide.

Danse Macabre ambles along inoffensively enough, but its electro pretensions quickly wear thin. The good synth pop bands of the 80s usually had talented songwriters on board. It's easy to see why contemporary bands might want to trade on the powerful operatics of the Human League, Depeche Mode, even the Pet Shop Boys. Sadly, The Faint lack a few essential ingredients - memorable melodies and good lyrics, in particular.

Instead we're offered a bunch of occasionally effective dancefloor stompers, which might sound good at 4am in a dingy Berlin nightclub but are underwhelming on a home stereo. The production creates an evocative atmosphere, particularly the bombast of 'The Conductor' and the G-Funk synths on 'Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat' (nice title guys!), but the songs struggle to impress.

'Your Retro Career Melted' might have seemed like a winningly ironic song title but in the case of The Faint, it seems sadly appropriate. File under Flock Of Seagulls.

Luke McManus

Tracklisting: Agenda Suicide - Glass Danse World - Totl Job - Let The Poison Spill From Your Throat - Your Retro Career Melted - Posed To Death - The Conductor - Violent - Ballad Of A Paralysed Citizen