At its genesis, social-media platforms posited themselves as new, innovative ways to connect with friends and family. You could share and promote your work, trade insights on the latest pop-culture phenomenon, coo over a friend’s new pet or baby - the possibilities seemed as boundless as the Internet itself had in the early ‘90s. But as one platform begot another, and then another, the proverbial milk started to curdle. Especially in the last decade, as algorithms evolve, Facebook and Twitter have morphed into warped personalised mirrors, where users can gaze at and react to left- or right-leaning news sources, specific-to-them advertisements, and—perhaps most relevant—fiery political opinions. Facebook in particular has become a breeding ground for hate speech and bullying, among other issues. This is precisely what troubles Omaha electro-punk pioneers The Faint on their seventh studio album, Egowerk.
“Social media is turning well-meaning people into self-important cruel monsters,” asserts lead singer Todd Fink. “Egowerk’s focus is on the current social state of the Internet: an amazing world of free knowledge, communication, and opportunity is proving to be a toxic battleground. One where the people most sure of their opinion are quick to take a stand and destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with them.”
His sense of urgency unfurls over the album’s frenetic, cacophonous tracks. Opener Child Asleep echoes well-loved Faint singles from the Danse Macabre days, with rapid fire techno beats that sear so hot, your forehead will break into a sweat regardless of proximity to a dance floor. And though the synths should sound familiar to any Faint follower, the song’s monotone message is at once classic and current: “If I was wise, I would see I’m a child still asleep.”
But in terms of music creation, the band, which also includes drummer and backup vocalist Clark Baechle, keyboardist Graham Ulicny, and guitarist and bassist Michael 'Dapose' Dappen, is very much wide awake. It’s been four years since the Saddle Creek flagship act dropped a proper studio album, and more than two decades since they first tore onto the Midwest scene, alongside area staples Cursive and Bright Eyes, with anxious electro-pop-punk anthems that meshed doomsday themes with thudding dance-floor hooks.
Now with their latest effort, the group began to construct Egowerk shortly after releasing their 2016 career-spanning record, Capsule:1999-2016, with Baechle making frequent trips back to Omaha from his new home in Philadelphia to mix the record. “We came up with the foundation of nearly an entire song each day, every day,” says Fink. “We worked really fast and made a lot of progress at the beginning.”
Recording at Enamel Studios in Omaha, The Faint composed 11 blistering tracks that explore society’s current relationship to, well, themselves. Despite The Faint’s nihilistic musings on Egowerk, Fink and Baechle remain optimistic that things can improve if society is willing to absorb dueling perspectives.
01. Child Asleep
02. Chameleon Nights
03. Life’s A Joke
04. Alien Angel
06. Own My Eyes
07. Source Of The Sun
08. Another World
09. Quench The Flame
10. Young & Realistic
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