French Kiss – 7.1
Indie rock years are akin to dog years in the attention span of the masses. Les Savy Fav last gave us something in 2004, the singles compilation Inches. Prior to that was 2001’s Go Forth, leaving an almost 6 year gap in new material. To the tastemakers, it’s like disappearing for nearly 14 years. Luckily, what happened in their absence was a wonderful stroke of luck: many of the popular bands that rose to prominence took on aspects of Les Savy Fav’s music. It became vogue to pump out the kind of bombastic, earnest indie rock that Les Savy Fav specialized in. Their return to the scene with 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends puts them back into a world that’s far more welcoming than the one they left.
How often can a band disappear for that long and return to eager anticipation? It’s a rare phenomenon. The returning band, however, isn’t quite the same. The brooding album opener “Pots and Pans” ends with the lyrics: “This is where it starts / this is where it ends / let’s tear this whole place down and build it up again.” The next track “The Equestrian” propels out of the speakers with a jerky rock riff coupled with drum fills that ramp up the tension. The song feels far more complete, crackling with the energy of a band that is more than happy to be back.
While they have slowed down some, it’s really only in tempo. Let’s Stay Friends is an upgrade from previous albums. Shedding some of the dance punk leanings that defined their sound, they’ve settled into something more traditional but no less essential. “Patty Lee” is a good example; it’s a straightforward stomping rock-punk tune that is garnished an almost U2-sounding riff. The spacier “Brace Yourself” is touched with some keyboards; later on the slow-pop of “Comes and Goes,” Tim Harrington’s yelp is complimented by the soft curl of Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger’s vocals.
Though things have changed somewhat, it’s still quite undeniably Les Savy Fav; dress them up in new clothes and it does little to hide the band underneath. You can strip some of the “art” from an art rock band, but what’s left is still quality. Les Savy Fav shows that 5 guys and the music they bang out are more important than any genre niche. With Let’s Stay Friends, we hear a band shedding the trappings that brought them to success and in turn creating something that’s going to keep the fans happy and make more than a few “Best of ’07” lists.
Written for AirRaid.net
French Kiss – 7.1