Thudding, sharp synths vaguely reminiscent of ‘80s goth rock or synth pop have become de rigeur in the world of dance music over the past few years, as nu-electro (or whatever it’s called this week) has become the pinnacle of musical fashion. There are so many bands attempting this music-and many, many of them lack the inspiration found in the best—like Felix da Housecat or Ladytron—that it may be tempting to write off anything associated with electro at this point. But of course that’d be a mistake.
Danse Macabre Remixes is, well, a remix album, obviously, collecting new versions of every track from The Faint’s third studio album Danse Macabre. Since The Faint’s fanbase was initially composed more of indie/emo fans—their association with the Saddle Creek label and their midwestern locale meant they were picked up by fans of Cursive and Bright Eyes awhile ago—it makes sense to refashion the already-dancey Danse Macabre for the clubs, and it works-at least as well as any remix disc works.
The original Danse Macabre is actually somewhat of a gem—The Faint mold tense, brooding lyrics to sharp, dark, and yet strangely accessible synth pop confections, recalling some of the darker works of Depeche Mode or Gary Numan, though punchier and (often) catchier. Danse Macabre dripped in paranoia, and it was that distinct, ‘80s-style paranoia felt by anyone who wasn’t a Reaganite capitalist/neo-conservative during that decade. It made for fascinating listening, and was one of the most successful goth/pop/electronic crossover albums in years.
The remixes of those same songs suffer exactly because this paranoia is loosened-instead of bringing out the darker strands of the songs and creating something for “alternative” (read: goth) dance clubs, this set generally accentuates the boomy, pop side of the Faint, making it more of a “Saturday night” dance album than the seedy exercise that Danse Macabre was. The very presence of a Paul Oakenfold remix only underscores this-Oakenfold couldn’t be any less “hip” with electro fans, and they’re bound to not like his contribution here, either. Even the otherwise-fantastic Felix da Housecat collaborator Tommie Sunshine (From Thee Glitz) fails to do that much with “Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat”—he merely grafts the Felix-trademark “thud, thud, thud” over the track. Keep in mind that the Faint’s originals were all pretty dancey to start with, and most of these remixes merely fuse the original to a more insistent club rhythm.
But Danse Macabre Remixes is actually a solid listen, despite some remixes that aren’t particularly revelatory. Unlike the current trend in remix albums to remix a track into oblivion, removing all of its melody and nearly all of its lyrics, these keep the songs from Danse Macabre mostly intact, which renders this remix album—unlike many—a consistent listen all the way through. It feels more like an album and less like a bunch of songs tossed on a mix disc, and that means that this remix set is at least a worthwhile companion to the album itself. But if you haven’t got Danse Macabre yet, that’s definitely the place to start. Come here for a second helping.