Media, the little-known debut from Omaha’s the Faint, is more or less a hunking pile of emo garbage. Once the band discovered synthesizers, decided that new wave kicks ass, and began writing about strippers and casual sex, people started paying attention. Eighties posturing aside, the Faint has matured with each record, adding new layers of electronics and darkening their mood. And fortunately, the Faint bassist Joel Peterson’s side project, Broken Spindles, seems to be mirroring his other band’s career.
Broken Spindles could very well be described as the Faint-light. The band’s 2002 self-titled debut felt like a rather unnecessary outing. What makes the Faint work is the synthesis of eighties retro with Brit-rock vocals, and the Spindles’ debut was neither. On Fulfilled: Complete, Broken Spindles’ second full-length, Peterson has decided to add vocals into the mix, which he avoided on his debut (that project began originally to accompany a friend’s film). But, knowing he can’t match the vocal impact of the Faint’s Todd Baechle, he opts instead for a matter-of-fact delivery reminiscent of Trent Reznor’s quieter moments on The Downward Spiral.
The lyrical content is questionable. On “Events & Affairs” he intones: “I got a new television to be part of it/ So excuse me but there’s no excuse/ For what I see in the news/ When I watch and read it feels like the … / end.” Right, sure. Given the delivery, though, this doesn’t stick out horribly, blending in with the often innovative texturing of electronics and punk guitars and drums.
The mood shifts from low-key electronics on tracks like the Boards of Canada- influenced “Induction” and “Harm” to heavier, guitar-driven near-anthems. “Move Away” has almost the same guitar chime as the opening riff and guitar melody of the Faint’s “Sex is Personal” — which always worked — and it sprinkles in the same crunchy guitars and bass throbs. There’s a diverse combination of instruments and sounds on Fulfilled: Complete: bells, synths and strings can be found independent of each other and in the same songs. Some are so soothing — check “The Dream” — that you could include them on a mix CD for your mom.
It looks like September for the release of the new Faint record, but this will tide over the hardcore fans and replace some of the steam the group lost after that horrific remix record. Neither a chill-out record nor a party maker, Fulfilled: Complete functions as a footnote to the Faint’s career and the electroclash movement — if that’s even still happening.