Omaha electro-punk outfit The Faint continues its exuberant crusade with a 10th studio album, Egowerk. The LP dives deeper into themes on the darker effects of social media and society. It would find itself at home on a disco playlist with its layered synths and repetitive vocal refrains, but taking a closer look at the lyrics reveals a different story.
The three singles—”Alien Angel,” “Child Asleep” and “Chameleon Night”—succinctly represent the album’s overall sound. The music is more on the upbeat, hook-based side, but the thematic elements center on issues present in modern society. Everything is tied together through this narrative. Although social media led to plenty of positive changes, it has also caused us to become detached from ourselves and others.
“Chameleon Nights” is Egowerk‘s standout cut. It spotlights a cautionary “fake it ’til you make it” theme, which stands out the most in the last verse: “what you fake becomes what you are.” The song touches on the human tendency to project a certain image out to the world, in the hope that one day we’ll actually measure up to the self-appointed standard. Vocalist Todd Fink’s commanding new-wave timbre makes sure we know the dangers of this, as staccato synth lines take the sonic lead.
His words speak to the societal pressures to become something you’re not. In this way, “Chameleon Nights” highlights the dark side of social media—as it grooms a society that will ostracize anyone who doesn’t fit the norm. The Faint illustrates the slippery slope of blending in, all while maintaining infectious synth-pop leadwork.
Album opener “Child Asleep” is the go-to summation of the LP’s disco styling, infused with a distinct sci-fi ’80s synth-wave sound. The mixture of bright keyboard effects and trance-like vocals provide the perfect balance of danceability and atmosphere. The video adds to the song’s hypnotic effect, commanding attention the whole way through with its retro haze and zany editing. It looks exactly like the song sounds. As Fink grapples with enlightenment and self-awareness, he contrasts a fear of ignorance with overwhelming epiphanies. This creates a meta-narrative structure to enhance its pop-noir aesthetics.
“Another World” and “Quench the Flame” keep the album’s deeper cuts up to a compelling synth-pop standard. They both expound on relationships that just don’t work anymore due to the fundamental differences between those involved. “Another World” sets the stage—two very different people who are worlds apart on the inside—while “Quench the Flame” paints a picture of the relationship’s end. Fink’s lyrics examine a doomed relationship as it runs its course, revealing that both parties played the same game, but with two conflicting ends in sight.
While Egowerk‘s themes tend toward the heavier end of the spectrum, the band manages to work them into a tight structure. The Faint is a synth-punk luminary not just because of its sound, but because the band can still speak truth to power and culture through infectious melodies and electrifying rhythm.
Follow reporter Aarushi Nanda at Instagram.com/aarushi_nanda.