(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, August 6, 2010

CD review - Les Savy Fav, Root For Ruin (2010)

Rhode Island School of Design must put something in the water. Like the Talking Heads before them, Les Savy Fav has roots at RISD. They also have a similarly quirky musical approach. The sound on Root For Ruin (due out September 14) mostly hits a new wave/post-punk sound, with elements of pop and straight punk sprinkled in. This seems to be a extension of their more recent sound, moving away from their abrasive hardcore roots.

Lead singer Tim Harrington sounds a bit like John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) in his Public Image Ltd. period. The opening song, Appetites, nails the John Lydon vibe, but it permeates the whole album. The first single, Let's Get Out Of Here, sets up a new wave, riff-centric guitar sound. The vocals dominate the sound, though, sometimes pushing the guitar back into the background. It's a bit of a cross between Psychedelic Furs and PiL. It's catchy with desperate lyrics:
I want you, right now
I don't need you to soothe me
To fix me, to prove me
I just want you to want me now
Don't care about the warning signs
Don't care about friends of mine
Don't care about what you should be
I just want you to want me right now
The only bit of true noise is the start of Poltergeist. The experimental intro dominates the first 30 seconds and persists for another 20 seconds after that. It's a little annoying, but the rest of the song makes up for that as it slips into a Velvet Underground guitar punk meets Bauhaus swirl. A bit like Bela Lugosi's Dead, the song builds to an exquisite tension that dissolves into the pop beginning of High and Unhinged in the next track.

Dirty Knails is another high point. It's a low fi, post-punk gem. The beat is frantice as the spasmatic guitar riff twitches with the unconscious obsession of restless leg syndrome. This reveals some of Les Savy Fav's nervous energy, but it's still harnessed to the song. It's got an edgy punk cred, which makes the vocal jam bridge that much more powerful.

Root For Ruin is another one of my sour beer albums...maybe a Flanders red, like Rodenbach. They share a certain intensity and challenging character, but they're worth the listen.

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