For the previous two decades, Omaha’s the Faint has faithfully followed a pattern: Alternate the danceable, catchy album with a noisy, experimental one. Doom Abuse, their sixth LP, offers nothing less than the long-threatened fusion of these two strands: Opener “Help in the Head” suggests Depeche Mode jamming with the Stooges. It’s the raging, bratty punk/synth-pop fusion you didn’t know you needed from these guys, and it announces immediately that they are back in defiant fighting form.
Abandoning straightforward sociological commentary, singer Todd Fink here instead adopts stream-of-consciousness spewing that reflects his scattered mental state. “I rewind the eye inside the mind to fill the void,” he babbles in “Evil Voices,” while admitting in the closer and sole downtempo cut “Damage Control,” “I hardly wear a subtle tongue or kid gloves.” “Loss of Head” suggests he’s mourning the death of an intimate relationship, while the rest simply implies that he’s losing his sanity.
Doom Abuse backs up those psychological seizures with full body spasms. The drummer on Bright Eyes’ greatest early albums, Fink’s brother Chris Baechle slams his skins throughout as if trying to hack his way machete-style through the technological clutter of the Faint’s last two albums. The rest of the band follows suit: The guitars are spitting mad, the synths absolutely livid. There is not one subtle thing here, and that is good.