Broken Spindles is what The Faint bassist Joel Petersen does on his off-time. The Faint it ain't (hey! That rhymes!), though they both belong to the same spiky-haired and black-clad club. From the first listen, Fulfilled/Complete
is pretty damn intriguing; I'd venture to say that it'd make some noise even if it weren't the work of someone already established as, like, happening.
Petersen enlisted the help of Bright Eyes' Mike Mogis for production and to play several of the instruments. The result is an album that's stylistically diverse (within some fairly rigid boundaries) but achieves a cohesive sound. For the most part, the songs are quite minimal in structure; they've generally got one or two very similar sections. It's the mood that sets them apart. "To Die, for Death" consists of little more than guitar paired with mandolin, over which Petersen repeatedly intones "Ready to die / I'm ready for death." But the guitar line mimics the inexorable rhythm of a train (or is it approaching mortality?), and the mandolin line is delicately spooky and the vocals are a desperate mantra; is he really ready to go, or just trying to convince himself? Other songs are more dancefloor-ready, but no more lighthearted. "Move Away", with its catchy bass and keyboard lines and pervasive beat, is a fitting backdrop for stone-faced hipsters to gyrate to; "Fall in and Down On"'s staccato string samples and scatter-beats are a bit more challenging to the clubgoer, but those fat, ultra-rhythmic synths sure are irresistible. Neither track comes close to cracking a smile. "Song No Song" shifts gears; It's aptly named, less a song than a solo piece for piano. "Practice, Practice, Preach" also shows off Petersen's more chamber-music side, pairing piano with sweeping strings. The classical influence pervades Fulfilled/Complete; even at his Wax Trax!-iest, Petersen throws in a violin line or two, and not just as tokens; some are ornate enough to have been lifted straight from the eighteenth century. They're often translated to other instruments as well -- imagine the ragged guitar arpeggios on "Italian Wardrobe" churned out by a string section and you'll get the idea.
Petersen rarely breaks away from his distorted monotone vocals, but even so, Fulfilled/Complete has a raw, compelling urgency. Despite being a bit of a downer, it's one of the most interesting albums I've heard in some time.