Cut Copy and Hercules & Love Affair have been burning up dorm-room dance floors. Then there's the rise of the more richly histrionic LCD Soundsystem, not to mention the textured Burial and grotesquely distorted Justice. It all makes Omaha quintet The Faint's simpler mind-meld of angst and beats seem more like The Quaint. But on Fasciinatiion, the band's first album since 2004's Wet from Birth, the Faint took notes. "Who put this hook inside my mouth?" frontman Todd Fink asks on Fasciinatiion's aptly titled leadoff track, "Get Seduced"; the answer, proudly, is he. The band's most alluring track in ages weds a hot-fudge bass line to clever sound effects, one after another, from malfunctioning acid synth to simulated zipper. The line where an "A-list starlet shaves her brains" betrays a sense of humor that will leave fans of 2002 breakthrough Danse Macabre relieved to learn that "Let the Poison Spill from Your Throat" might have been a stab at high-drama humor after all. The ebbing "I Treat You Wrong" wins innumerable points for cribbing from Archers of Loaf's "White Trash Heroes." But mostly the fascination here is with sounds, not songs, which is fine for the year Portishead came back, as long as The Faint have enough dial tones and farts swiped from Thom Yorke's basement tapes to deck out Fink's traditionally one-note delivery when listeners' attention wanders. And give them some props for shaping a hook around the phrase "forever growing centipedes."
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