The Faint's fifth album, Fasciinatiion is an exercise in how not to handle artistic freedom. The group oversaw the album's production from songwriting to physical product, but an outside perspective would have benefited these songs greatly. In "Get Seduced" Todd Fink coos about vanity, but his sentiments are like those of a guy driving an SUV with a "go green" bumper sticker. "I Treat You Wrong" is a convincing and unflattering celebration of masochism, and the lack of poetic license throughout the album's lyrics makes Fasciinatiion dry beyond salvation. The bass and drums try hard to save each song from electro-overkill, but they're lost in a sound so cluttered and so heavily tweaked that it chokes the life out of every song, every step of the way. 1 star
The Faint plays Variety Playhouse. $20-$22.50. Thurs., Aug. 14. 8:30 p.m. 404-524-7354. www.variety-playhouse.com.