2008's Fasciinatiion and 2014's Doom Abuse saw the veteran electro-punk outfit break away from Saddle Creek, the Omaha-based label they helped popularize alongside indie rock luminaries like Cursive and Bright Eyes. Egowerk marks the Faint's return to the influential label, and while the group's signature blend of nihilist post-punk and twitchy electro-dance-rock remains at the fore, this time around the emphasis is decidedly on the latter persuasion. After Doom Abuse, drummer and chief programmer Clark Baechle relocated to Philadelphia, leaving the rest of the band in the heartland. Looking to speed up production time and decrease frequent trips back to Omaha, he opted to eschew the traditional drum kit for a strictly electronic based mode of percussion, and it's within those icy exteriors that Egowerk conjures its dark magic. Inspired by the disconnect and toxicity of social media, and the general discord sewn when the internet and the ego collide, Egowerk evokes the friction-fueled lo-fi emissions of the band's early days, but with a more measured hand. Keyboardist Graham Ulicny, who replaced Jacob Thiele in 2016, locks right in with the band's new-ish direction, lending a Tubeway Army/early-Ministry vibe to standout cuts like the plucky "Alien Angel," the arpeggiator-happy "Child Asleep," and the frosty title track. Todd Fink has never been a particularly emotive singer, but his detached croon and dystopian lyrics lend a verisimilitude to the retro feel of the 11-track set. Simultaneously laconic and engaged, his presence -- like the LP itself -- feels spectral; the last being standing amidst an empty room filled only with decibels and discarded glow-sticks and wrist-bands.
by James Christopher Monger