The coolest thing about new wave music in the ’80s was the abundance of songs with murky meanings. The second coolest thing was, of course, the synthesizers. Vague lyrics left plenty of room for interpretation—like, when the Eurythmics sang, “Sweet dreams are made of this,” the “this” could have been pretty much anything. Piña coladas? Twinky filling? My-Little-Pony accessories? The exotic and futuristic sound of the synthesizers somehow gave a song permission to be as lyrically obtuse as it wanted to be—and the equation worked.
Then came The Faint, a new wave revival band heavily involved in the vibrant Omaha, Neb., indie-rock scene. They have synthesizers in spades, and are quite skilled at using them to create catchy and quirky soundscapes. The problem is that these guys couldn’t be lyrically impressionistic if they tried: “I know I must have stressed you out / I don’t start fights, I make explosions / it’d be easier to just calm down / but I’m an asshole when I get called out.” While their grooves are contagious, their tendency to tell too much of the story is an undermining force that ultimately makes Fascination just a so-so album.
The Faint play The Other Side Wednesday, Nov. 12, at 10 PM. $23.