Review : Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin
PitchforkIn their more than dozen years of existence, Les Savy Fav have gained a reputation as an exhilaratingly wild live act. While the band is known for working up a sweat-drenched crowd chaos, though, their career trajectory has been one of a band focused on truly honing their hard-charging craft. LSF's last full-length, 2007's Let's Stay Friends, represented the full realization of their sound, with exacting, catchy-as-hell songs that possessed the neck-snapping kinetic energy that was found in rougher form on previous records. A polished "crossover" effort, yeah, but also fun and rollicking in all the right places.
Root For Ruin, the band's fifth proper LP, re-asserts that sound rather than expanding upon or altering it. There's not many surprising moments on this record; if anything, it feels like the first Les Savy Fav album that sounds more comfortable in its own clothes than twitching to tear apart its own skin. This isn't necessarily a bad thing: LSF still excel at constructing miniature explosions of songs, even if they sound a bit tidier now.
Guitarists Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland prove to be aces in the hole for this record, continuing to prove their worth as two of modern indie rock's smarter, more bruising axe-wielders. They layer colorful lines over each other like it's a competition, bringing the hook-laden pain on the smashing, bashing opener "Appetites" and "Lips n' Stuff". Elsewhere, they create nervewracking warning calls on "Excess Energies" that dovetail in and out of Tim Harrington's metronomic shouts. On the whole, there are still very few bands that do this arty, shitkicking stuff as well as Les Savy Fav do....full text
TinymixtapesEven as they creep closer to the mainstream (or as the mainstream creeps closer to them), Les Savy Fav make it clear that they haven't jettisoned bluster in search of mass appeal. As brash as ever, Root For Ruin finds the NYC band in a particularly lascivious mood. Les Savy Fav exercise their libidos, which is a good thing, frankly, slipping sex into the too often neutered indie rock conversation. Within Root For Ruin's first few minutes, world-class weirdo/Beardo Tim Harrington leers, "Show us your teeth and show us your tits/ Show us your scars from the shit that you did"; the song is titled "Appetites," and it's clear that Harrington's not just talking about his gut. Two songs later and tits are again mentioned; despite the frequent gratuitousness, the crass language doesn't feel forced or unnatural. Harrington's lyrics come across as assured and keenly observational, rather than obnoxiously crude. Or perhaps they are obnoxious, but deliberately so.
Les Savy Fav are no longer fresh faces on the scene, which means that they have even more to prove than the usurpers who have followed in their wake. The scene — as much as sex — is a constant point of conversation on Root For Ruin. "Sleepless In Silverlake," one of the album's gentler tracks, describes the apathetic feelings — the floating listlessness — engendered by Los Angeles and its shallow, privileged party life. "We try to beat the haze away," Harrington confesses, referring to his existential malaise as much as to commonplace environmental hazards. Haze, that fuzzing of mental faculties, is something that grows with age; impotence, like smoggy, cloudy thoughts, is just another manifestation of the slow fade of middle age. Fear of growing older, more than sex or scenes, is embedded in the heart of Root For Ruin. Just think about that title for a moment. Root — the buried tips, the grasping, living claw — and ruin — the reduction, destruction, disintegration. It's heavy stuff, but well-suited for as direct a front man as Harrington....full text
Onethirtybpm“We’ve no shame and we’ve no pride and we’ve got nothing left to hide, ‘cause we’ve got nothing left inside,” snarls Tim Harrington on the bridge of Root for Ruin’s superb opening track “Appetites.” Like a mission statement for the downtrodden-yet-bold underbelly of society this passage emphatically announces the band’s arrival and sets out their intentions for this album; to present themselves honestly: it’s disgusting, seedy and desperate, yet perversely heroic.
Root for Ruin finds Les Savy Fav ditching any attempts at branching out; gone are the more accessible numbers such as “Patty Lee” and any additional instrumentation that was hinted at on their last release has also been vanquished. Instead they’ve gone for the balls with one of the finest straight-up rock records you’re likely to hear this year. The double-pronged guitar attack is as potent as ever, with each song possessing a thunderous guitar onslaught as well more cavernous, atmospheric guitar on top. This sound may bear resemblances to some pop-punk bands but they eschew most of the labels that are generally associated with that genre by being brash, self-confident and committed throughout.
Harrington himself makes no apologies for his band’s straightforward musical approach, complementing the ruckus with the growling of his putridly and simplistically magnificent lyrics. “Time and purpose I defy you, all my life you know I’ve tried to,” he triumphantly pronounces on “Excess Energies” and he’s not lying; any song on this album can be held up as an example of Les Savy Fav’s defiance towards life. It seems with this album the band are trying to break free from whatever has been restraining them and doing it in the messiest way possible; whether it’s waltzing to the bottom of a barrel or having “friends with benefits.” If the words are coming from experience or are fictional it doesn’t matter; they’re delivered with such conviction and backed up by such imperious rock that you either go with it or you’ll be swept away in a barrage of guts and sweat....full text
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