Writing about Les Savy Fav is really difficult to do without keeping frontman Tim Harrington in mind. It’s not just his vocals, but his overall performance attitude, making each show something to remember. Root for Ruin feels a great deal like an album made perfectly for one of Tim’s amazing stage shows, giving him plenty of fuel, and just enough time to breathe and drench the audience in his sweat.
Out of the gate, “Appetites” just straight ahead knocks you out. It’s got sharp knifing guitars cutting across each other, and then Tim takes the stage. You can envision him approaching the audience, shoving the microphone in our face as he screams “we still got our appetites,” making a statement that Les Savy Fav aren’t ready to call it a day–thank goodness. They won’t let up just yet either, bringing you pounding drums into the mix with “Dirty Knails.” As those guitars fly into the mix, you can see the veteran band moving the audience to a passionate frenzy.
“Sleepless in Silverlake” is one of those sprawling songs where Tim would probably sit on the edge of the stage, toying with members of the audience, perhaps doing some sort of well-timed crouch/stomp across the stage. Pristine guitars carry themselves with grace throughout this track, while Harrington’s vocals remain steady, serving more as the skeletal backbone of the song. Root for Ruin doesn’t just rush along either, as some of their albums have done, it lets the listener gather themselves up as well, much like “Let’s Get Out of Here,” using swinging high vocals and one of the strongest melodies the band’s offered us to date. It’s adult post-rock, but done with such vibrance and self-assuredness that you’ll swear it never sounded this good.
One of the things the band has managed to do so well is balance the juxtaposition of their quieter, subdued moments with edgy rockers. Thrown back to back, “High and Unhinged” and “Excess Energies” demonstrate the perfect contrast in the band’s work, with the former using sort of a staccato guitar line to correlate with Tim’s stop and start vocal delivery. It’s not nearly as in your face as the other work on Root for Ruin, but it surely falls in line with some of the group’s more accomplished numbers. “Excess Energies” just hits you from the opening seconds, using violent imagery to give a bit of resonation to the ferocity with which the band exhibits, both in this song and live.
You see, you can’t possibly approach writing about Les Savy Fav without incorporating some aspect of the band’s live performances, as they’re surely one of the most original and invigorating live acts around at the moment. All of Root for Ruin feels precisely like a well lined-up showcase of everything the group has to offer listeners, using pummeling numbers alongside songs that tend to meander, albeit with an edginess you’re not likely to find elsewhere. After years of playing together, they’ve finally seemed to encompass in the live recording everything we’ve all known about them all along, bottling up their fury and creativity in one glorious collection of eleven tracks.
Download: Les Savy Fav – Let’s Get Out of Here [MP3]