Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

The Faint, TV on the Radio, Beep Beep

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The boys in THE FAINT are still in stylistic hock to all the usual 80s suspects on the new Wet From Birth (Saddle Creek), but now the Mancunian authors of "Blue Monday" are clearly their chief creditors. Sloughing off the claustrophobic gloom of their cybergoth synth-pop masterpiece, Danse Macabre (2001), the band seems intent on steering back toward the manic pre-neo-new-wave pastiche of Blank-Wave Arcade (1999) and the sweaty, undersexed voyeurism of its club-life critique. Front man Todd Baechle brings a perfected cool-dork swagger to his acid delivery, and this time around his yelping snarl evokes not so much Simon LeBon or Robert Smith as a Bernard Sumner never blissed out by ecstasy or smoothed over by Prozac. Keyboardist Jacob Thiele's throbbing pulses and grinds still drive most of the music, but thrash-funk bass lines and dirtier guitars have crept into the mix, and some of the hard-sell elements of Danse Macabre--like the melodramatic, front-and-center strings--have been recast as sardonically artful accompaniment. It's no Power Corruption & Lies, but on Wet From Birth the Faint genuinely rocks--something New Order had just about forgotten how to do by this point in its career. --Brian Nemtusak

The Brooklyn band TV ON THE RADIO was a breath of very fresh air when the home-burned OK Calculator started making the rounds in 2002, and its idea-rich space-case indie funk sounds just as startling two Touch and Go releases later. "New Health Rock" is the title song on the group's forthcoming single, but it's the other two tunes--a dreamy, Can-like take on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Modern Romance" plus the pulsating album track "The Wrong Way"--that deserve top billing. Opening act BEEP BEEP, on the other hand, demonstrates the perils of overhybridization with the postpunk-math-funk mannerisms of its irritating Business Casual (Saddle Creek). --Monica Kendrick

Wednesday 6, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $15, 18+. See also Thursday.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Carrico.

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