An eleven year anniversary seems an unusual occasion for an extravagant boxset reissue, but that hasn't stopped the folk at Saddle Creek from doing just that. The Faint's Dance Macabre, their press release tells us, was the seminal record of its age. In the extensive liner-notes for this 2 CD 1 DVD 2 LP package The Faint are heralded as the fountain head of 'modern dance-rock' and are, if we're to believe what we're being told, solely responsible for the success of Franz Ferdinand, The Killers, and Bloc Party. This is, of course, utter nonsense.
What Dance Macabre actually was, however, was a cracking good album. Few records start with the punch and conviction of the openers Agenda Suicide and Glass Danse, and while the gothy "real jobs are for drones, man" sentiments and post-apocalyptic synths sound distinctly teenage a decade on, it still somehow works. Turned up loud through a good amp, the vinyl remaster in this set comes across sounding as fresh as any contemporary 'dance-rock' record can do. I'm sure if they'd recorded it in 2012 there'd be a heavier dubstep vibe, but while the textures themselves may be different, the motivations and attitude are much the same as the majority of sounds coming from your radio today.
As for the added extras in this set, closer inspection reveals that the massive package is not actually as feature-rich as one was led to believe. The DVD holds nothing more interesting than a couple of music videos and back-projections from the band's live shows, and a paltry, self-indulgent collection of archive footage strung together with no apparent thought for narrative or aesthetics, that served little purpose other than to draw attention to some of the great tracks from The Faint's preceding LP Bank Wave Arcade - arguably a rougher, less assured album, but certainly one with better songs. 2005's Spend An Evening With Saddle Creek documentary, while rambling and un-focused, actually had a lot of interview and archive footage from the making of Danse Macabre, and it's a shame the content on this reissue doesn't continue or build on that story. Of the six tracks on the bonus CD and LP, only the cover of Bright Eyes' Falling Out Of Love At This Volume has made it onto my iPod; at best, this disc is a mildly interesting diversion from the main event (unless, of course, you're one of those diseased people who actually enjoys remixes...).
It's good to see that Danse can still hold its own, and if nothing else it's nice to have these songs on high-quality vinyl and be given an excuse to revisit an old favourite that otherwise might not have been listened to for quite some time. However, as is the case with the vast majority of box-set reissues, unless you're the most completist of Faint fans I'd recommend you save your cash and stick with the regular version.