Les Savy Fav
Since their emergence from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996, Les Savy Fav have been building a passionate following among musicians, fans, and critics the old fashioned way: by earning it. In a world where technologies speed new music to listeners and enable young bands instant access to limitless audience, Les Savy Fav is among an increasingly rare breed of band who built their audience city by city and fan by fan. The approach has yielded something even more rare: a fully seasoned band at the peak of their skill that has not been blown out by hype and overexposure. The band’s 2007 release, Let’s Stay Friends, was their first to achieve substantial press response and found it’s place in many lists of top albums for the year. With their new release, Root For Ruin, Les Savy Fav seems poised for the kind of widespread acclaim many have felt they have long deserved.
The new album is called Root For Ruin for several reasons. Here’s one: it sifts through 15 years of musical experience to arrive at a diamond-edged sound that’s as upfront and direct as the quintet’s legendary live shows. That goes for everything from the gut-punching percussion and drunken punk subtleties of “Clear Spirits” to the moonlit melodies and restless, groove of “Sleepless in Silverlake”. “Poltergeist”, cut in one take at the band’s rehearsal space, features a downward spiral vibe that’s both delirious and delightful. Root For Ruin keeps you on your toes through 11 tracks.
The band approached their previous release Let’s Stay Friends, after over ten years working together, the way a married couple looking to spice things up might. Like the hosts of a wild swingers party, they opened their arms to embrace new players from such indie rock institutions as the Fiery Furnaces, Broken Social Scene, Enon and Modest Mouse to join them. They even went so far as to invite fans to sing on their tracks over the phone. Root For Ruin finds frontman Tim Harrington, bassist Syd Butler, drummer Harrison Haynes, and guitarists Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland enjoying a less “open” relationship. The album features only the five Favs. “With our last album, we wanted to cavort around the world and try some freaky stuff.” says Harrington. “With this one(Root For Ruin), it turns out we enjoy making love with one another more than with a group of strangers” adds Jabour.
Weird sex metaphors aside, the tightness of the band is undeniable on Root For Ruin. For some it will signal a return to the rawer energy evidenced on their early recordings. It’s clear by the tracks on the album that the guys are enjoying their own legacy. Many songs carry the torch for some of the band’s first influences. Still, it’s not nostalgic. Root For Ruin is not stylistic pose or aesthetic conceit- it’s the real deal. Les Savy Fav’s commitment to it’s work and fans might explain why one of Brooklyn’s ballsiest bands has maintained such a cult following for more than a decade. With Root For Ruin, they’ve succeeded in distilling their interests and experiences into an album which will continue to influence the independent music scene they’ve helped build while broadening their sound towards a new world of fans.