Les Savy Fav are both savvy & fab: discuss
Christgau’s review of Les Savy Fav’s Let’s Stay Friends was misleading — as a listener guide, although not as a consumer guide, i.e. I’m glad his review prompted me to buy it, but would have saved a month of wondering if he’d zeroed in on what’s actually to love about it. Spends a third of the paragraph describing the content of the lead track, then veers into a laundry list of other songs’ concepts. As if this was a song band, or a concept band even. They’re a band band, which is to say that the for the most part it’s not the tunes or the verbal content that makes you come back to these tracks. It’s the forward momentum, the collective energy, the guitar asides, the reliable-to-explosive riffs and basslines, the occasional synth/horn counterhook.And also the vocals, which at first seem whiny-to-yowly but (thus?) end up seeming like the indie equivalent of soul – yearning, passionate, outraged at the drop of a hat, reflective when he’s cooled down some. Sure this one’s a heap better than their pretty-good last album, 2001’s Go Forth (yeah, OK, I just bought it last week) . But not because the tunes or the words got all that much better, but because now they’ve subsumed their jagged harshness in a musical whole that’s rich, full and versatile, loose and cohesive at the same time, fun and committed. In fact, only after I felt the full impact of the music did the words start to signify, did I start to sense their often kooky, often self-referential or obscurantist lyrics as neither a careless mess nor willfully perverse, but rather the candid and untidy markings and ventures of real lives. The proof of their musical instincts, and that they know their songwriting strengths, is “Comes and Goes,” an astute analysis of the way relationships tend to fall apart. It’s the most stand-alone tune and lyric on the album, and they honor it by scaling back the onslaught and bringing out an acoustic.
This is up there with the most satisfying hard rock & roll band albums of the ‘00s – explosive like Listening Around’s pet band Wussy just isn’t, concise like The Wrens The Meadowlands isn’t, less gimmicky and hypheny than Gogol Bordello, less narrow than the Libertines’ debut, and less gimmicky and narrow than White Stripes White Blood Cells or Elephant, funnier than One Beat. And if you don’t get it right away, play it louder next time.
Filed under: Les Savy Fav | 2 Comments
Tags: Les Savy Fav, Libertines, Sleater-Kinney, White Stripes, Wrens, Wussy. Gogol Bordello