REVIEW: Les Savy Fav – Root For Ruin

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Not content with hosting his own hilariously, sexually disturbing show Beardo (thanks Pitchfork tv), and inspiring festival bothering, mammoth of hair and sweat BEEEAAAANNNNSSS to morph into a heftier backboobed version of himself, Les Savy Fav’s spandex wearing, self baldening frontman Tim Harrington has gone and made another bloody good record.

2007’s Let’s Stay Friends was the bands big comeback, after a worrying 2 year hiatus, the albums sound danced the fine lines between abstract delayed guitar noodlings, and catchy hooks (Patty Lee most glaringly). With hindsight, after hearing Root For Ruin, you could categorize it as a transitional period for LSF, a meeting point of the abrasive noise punk of old, and the ever more apparent rock pop of new. Root For Ruin finds itself firmly in the latter camp, and its all the better for it.

Opener ‘Appetites’ is an angular razor sharp, shout along and about as perfect a summation/introduction you could ask for. Despite the ridiculous costumes, Pitchfork skits and Ancient Greek appearance, you know ”We still got our appetite” is as sincere a lyric as any, with Harrington spitting every word like his life depended on it. Everything seems so much more focused, any uncertainty or meandering instrumentation of before is eradicated, what’s left is a band as tight as they are angry.

‘Let’s Get Out of Here’ (latest single) is again driven, fully aware of its purpose, that purpose being a hefty motherflipper of an album lead single. The precision riffage early on, accentuates Harrington’s heartbroken yelps, paving the way for a chorus so catchy in its simplicity, it becomes instantly embedded into your brain like some addictively Weezer esque lesion. While listening be prepared to cultivate LSF tourettes, symptoms of which may include singing ”OOoooh let’s get out of here now, let’s get out of here” at randomly awkward moments throughout the day…

But wait before you veteran fans start throwing around rumours of selling out, there’s still enough here to satisfy your needs. Introducing ‘Poltergeist’, one of the few, (but necessary) noise pop moments found on RFR, a stark but welcomed contrast. Ghostly reverberating guitars, create a mesh of noise, anchored down by the thwack of the drums, and Harrington’s distant, subdued echoing vocals, culminate in the closest thing to ‘traditional’ Les Savy Fav on the LP.

Not shy of changing tack, ‘Dear Crutches’ switches the mood to more relaxed pastures, its delayed guitar [The] Cribs-ish in its catchiness, but Johnny Marr aping in its casual complexity. The opening bars particularly, are reminiscent of a a Cribs track, but when allowed room to breathe in the chorus, it truly shines, becoming an interwoven wall of sound pop song, dare I say it, guitar lines almost…*gulp*…Smith’s like…Think of an almighty mash up between the Jarman brothers, and Modest Mouse, and you’d be close.

Whether intended as an indication of things to come, or simply just another album specific change in direction, closer ”Clear Spirits” draws ”LSF of old” out of the bag. Coming off brittle and harsh, with everything including the drums coated in distortion, LSF somehow manage to direct its 3:50 into something resembling a song, and an epic one at that. The guitars although gritty, tumble and soar, looping and wailing simultaneously. How they manage to do it is another matter, its moments like this that seem almost as if they’re making well crafted, thought out songs, appear to be accidental streams of thought or just jamming sessions…or in other words, truly genius.


(PS: Yes we do get paid by the word for Les Savy Fav posts. Also Arcade Fire)

Joe Thresh