An evil E-chord
shatters the silence. The casual listener is reminded of the same
sinister note which signaled the beginning of War Pigs on the Black
Sabbath Paranoid album. The E is an unsettling note, especially
when played by two guitars slightly, microtonally off-pitch. This
mood is perfectly set when a deep voice begins speaking... IN FRENCH.
The French language (the so-called "language of love") is usually
not heard under such dark circumstances. However, this is a decidedly
sneering voice which is welcoming us into the world of Les Savy
Fav. The voice continues to talk about the band, their origins,
amid searing interjections by the band, all the while fuelling
the listener's appetite for destruction. It is a great setup,
because a first time listener cannot tell what kind of music is
in store. It would suggest Heavy Metal, but one is not so sure.
In fact, one never is so sure upon listening to the rest of
the album. What one is sure of is that this is exciting, danceable,
wonderful noise. It is hyper, spastic and jolting and at many
times melodious and crafted.
The end of the Intro segues immediately into crowd noise and
a jarring single guitar strumming (rather slicing) a C# chord
(1,2,3...1,2,3...1,2,3,...) while a voice over a loudspeaker shouts
"Attencion, Attencion" More French.
The drums come in with the single guitar with a beat and we
realize the pattern is a 5/4 (1,2,3, bum,bum 1,2,3, bum,bum) Suddenly
add bass and other guitar on same note and a virulent French voice
and one can't help but recoil. So begins a "New Teen Anthem".
To me this band embodies what Punk Rock (I mean REAL punk rock
which originated in America, THEN went to England and in fact
DIED by the late 70's or evolved as some say into hardcore and
new wave) would have become if it had continued. This is Punk
music (loud, outrageous, snotty, crude) as played by punks who
eventually learned to not only tune their instruments but also
to play them exceptionally well.
It is also perversely funny. One would make the assumption
that Les Savy Fav is from Europe with all this French nonsense.
Actually the band hails from such decidedly non-European settings
as Rhode Island, Williamsburg, Pennsylvania and Brooklyn. A former
fixture on the New England scene, mainly in Providence, the band
now resides in New York and is making the rounds in the club scene
More comedy? Take "Cut it out" track #3 which begins again
with a single guitar intoning a simple C#- minor arpeggio. The
band kicks in and the b-minor arpeggio continues before you recognize
it as the synthesizer line from "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" by Rod
Stewart (the old disco chestnut that was decidedly scorned by
the likes of Johnny Rotten and Co. upon its original release)
A punk band paying homage to disco: How's that for irony. It only
gets funnier as the song continues. We have a man singing, "I
am the patient and the physician; I am the doctor with the condition;
I give myself the scalpel and make the first incision..." Say
What? A catchy chorus that seems harmless enough until you realize
that "Cut it out" means to perform self-surgery. The second verse
continues: "I'm takin' off my pants, I'm puttin' on my gloves,
I'm gonna' heal myself, cuz I'm the one I love" OK we have punk
music with a disco quote about self-mutilation with a beat you
can dance to... sounds like a recipe for fun to me!
And the fun doesn't stop there. Opening beats that throw off
the listener's inner rhythm, dual-guitar ostinatos, occasional
reinforcement by bass, screamy, singy voices (but not annoyingly
so), catchy choruses; This album is good the way that Motorhead
and The Knack made good singles.
You may not like either one of these bands but you'd be lying
if you said you didn't have a smirk come across your face everytime
"Ace of Spades" or "My Sharona" comes on the radio. Les Savy Fav
makes you feel like you are engaging in a guilty pleasure because
beneath its confrontational veneer lurks some wonderful Punk/Pop
music. Think Red Hot candy, sweetness with a BITE! 3/5 offers
something for everyone, from the music analyzing freaks to the
people who just want to dance like Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast
"Raise Buildings" is the definite climax of the album (which
is so well musically structured and succinct that one has to listen
to it as a whole rather than in segments). A distorted bass line
(reminiscent of "Time for Livin'" done by the Beastie Boys) opens
with random squeaks and feedback noise from the surrounding guitars,
which almost sound like an airplane starting up its engines, preparing
for liftoff. The excitement continues to mount, you get ready
to make that leap in the air to welcome the first guitar chord
as the drums enter and SUDDENLY the floor is ripped out from under
you and you are left with NO guitars or Bass and simply an off-kilter
Au Go-Go drum beat and some really fucked-up sounding voices yelping
about cavities. This has got to be one of the GREAT musical fakes
of all-time, continuing a tradition which dates back to Haydn's
Finally the bassline re-enters with the guitars leading to
a beautiful block of headbanging noise that plasters the nose
hairs of the listener. Oh God. I don't want to give away all of
this wonderful album's stunning secrets. Be advised to purchase
this album or better yet, see this band which regularly plays
Brownies in New York. (I didn't even mention the charismatic live
show that Les Savy Fav puts on...) Put this album in and crank
it and jump around like a Peanuts character and sing La, La, La
at the top of your lungs. Don't be ashamed.
Written By: Sir Brian C.