Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin

Album cover
Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Punk
Frenchkiss Records
Les Savy Fav
Root For Ruin
Les Savy Fav - Root For Ruin Review rating:
3
User rating:
Average: 2 (1 vote)

Infusing a stale, sexless musical landscape too prim and proper for its own chaotic nature is certainly not a simple task. For all of “indie rock's” forthright intricacies and progressive characters the music has always seemed more confidently toted by the sexually frustrated. Enter Les Savy Fav, a NYC by way of Rhode Island quintet, whom are not the first, nor the last artsy-fartsy punk band to champion themselves on the provocative; predominantly through the lyricism and on stage antics of a particularly large and generally shirtless front man. Tim Harrington’s blustery live presence aside, the band has for over ten years now been mixing an art-rocker's penchant for woozy synth and spacey guitars with post-hardcore bombast to great success. Culminating to 2007’s magnum opus Let’s Stay Friends, the band has since pushed their bouncy Talking Heads-esque basslines and post-punk guitar noodling to the forefront leaving their more jagged musical inclinations behind. While they have certainly embraced their pop more than their punk as of recent it would be a bit cheap to refer to record number five as a radio cash-grab as Root For Ruin is still rampant with frayed distortion, dizzying guitars and Harrington’s lyrical bravado. Safe to say though, with this record, Les Savy Fav have made their biggest push for the airwaves yet.

It almost feels weird to be reasoning with the idea of Les Savy Fav selling out (mostly because they haven’t), but it is hard not ponder when something so streamlined and pristine as Root For Ruin is put up for dissection. Could be by this point the band has become so skilled at crafting their high-flying, technically savvy art-punk that something as simple to slip into as Root For Ruin just reads as a bit routine. Almost easy to a fault, the record and all of its thirty-nine minutes are enjoyable, raucous rock n’ roll with just the right amount of  eroticism and rebellion thrown in for good measure. In the end though, once you’ve traversed all the crevices of comfortable riffs, ascended to the peak of every hook and recited each clever turn of phrase--Root For Ruin begins to run thin.

The issue with the album is not so much how well the band is playing (very well) or how “good” or “bad” the music is (it is good); but more so the sequencing of the album--nothing is allowed to breathe. Furthermore Les Savy Fav have not really moved much of anywhere musically in the four years since Friends. Root is not a stride back or forward musically, but more of a sidestep, staving their development and pushing the bubble-gum aspects of their sound further. For all its infectious musicianship and high-flying choruses, each song has a real issue with being independent of any other. Now normally this would not warrant even a raised brow; it may all sound like one song--but that song is great. It is when you can trace each track’s lineage directly back to previous, better LSF tunes that things become a little washy. Though as a live experience, one could imagine Root For Ruin being a blast; they meander less, the fat has been trimmed down to quality verse-chorus-verse ditties and Harrington’s lack of disdain for getting laid (and the apocalypse) is still refreshing. It’s just before LSF were not just setting the trend, they were determining the pace. With this record though, they seem to just get comfortable sitting on the bar they’ve set. Here’s to someone rolling in to rattle the cages; because Root For Ruin, as valiantly as it tries, cannot help but be little more than a tremor.  

   

1. Appetites
2. Dirty Knails
3. Sleepless In Silverlake
4. Let's Get Out Of Here
5. Lips n' Stuff
6. Poltergeist
7. High And Unhinged
8. Excess Energies
9. Dear Crutches
10. Calm Down
11. Clear Spirits

New York City based indie rock back, initially formed in Providence, Rhode Island in 1995 while the members were attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Pegged as a noise-rock act initially, they've since shed the comparisons and tote a pop-friendly mix of art-punk and post-hardcore. Lead singer Tim Harrington garnered a reputation as a bit of an on stage wild man generally performing in outlandish costumes, changing said outfits mid-set and conducting audience wide make-out sessions. They have since moved to New York and bassist Syd Butler owns Frenchkiss Records.

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