Les Savy Fav: 'Let's Stay Friends'
'LSF know they’re a revelation, a revolution even'
Frank Carter, Simon Neil… 2007 has welcomed the unlikeliest of heroes with freshly-inked arms. Suitably, Tim Harrington, balding friar-clown lead singer with Rhode Island art-noise go-getters Les Savy Fav, is very unlikely. To the eye, he’s a boiled egg with a tufty ginger beard and darts player’s six-pack whom, during sunshine hours, designs patterned soft furnishings with his wife – oven gloves, bibs and beds for small dogs. However, to the ear, he’s the bellowing voice-box and renegade poet for a potentially life-affecting band.
For a dozen years Harrington and his team-mates have toiled with the kind of incombustible DIY outlook that shelters in the rusting arches of a Transit van or cat-naps under the merch-stand. Through six years of articulate planning ‘Let’s Stay Friends’ – their forth outing – still arrives as a startling cannon-shot message of brain-thawing intent. “The dream is to be the biggest band in the world, but for everyone to still have day jobs,” Tim barked recently. Only a call to arms like this could support a statement like that.
LSF haven’t made their definitive record by accident. The signs were there on 2001’s ‘Go Forth’ – but this is a step up and into the best party on Earth. Agit-punk appetiser ‘The Equestrian’ is the first wild stab of 12 armoured pop songs, while ‘Patty Lee’ manages to sound like a casket of soda-guzzling ghosts or The Blood Brothers ensnaring the Pixies. Better still is garage-rock smackdown ‘Raging In The Plague Age’ – about throwing all the shit bands out of your kingdom like a megalomaniac Hives; or ‘What Would Wolves Do?’ – a jangling coast of feral-punk, every note scented with integrity, can-do attitude and ruthless ambition. Nestling between are ‘Slugs In The Shrubs’, ‘Scotchgard The Credit Card’ and ‘The Lowest Bitter’, each petroleum-stained, diiirty Detroit bass anthems or squealing pop-sensitised post-punkettes (where their adoration of labelmates Bloc Party emerges). There’s also camouflaged cameos from Devendra Banhart, Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces) and their own fans (via a phone line encouraging contributors to sing over the top of instrumental demos on ‘Scotchgard…’). Frankly, dynasties have been built on less.
Appropriately, the album begins with its final message on the Springsteen-esque statement of ‘Pots & Pans’: “This is where it starts/This is where it ends/We’ll tear this whole place down and build it up again.” LSF know they’re a revelation, a revolution even. If the response is just, Harrington may become obliged to hang up those oven gloves for good.