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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Les Savy Fav
Let's Stay Friends

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

September 18, 2007
All you really need to know about the new Les Savy Fav joint, Let's Stay Friends, comes half-way through song four, the most excellent "Patty Lee," when fanatical vocalist Tim Harrington screeches: "Back before Babyloooooon/ Shit was cooooool!" It is one of those moments that so perfectly sums up the energy of an artist; it either grabs you by the collar, or pushes you away (like Elaine shoving Jerry as she exalts "shut up!"). My inclination is that to fans of these post-punk indie stalwarts, the moment will be cherished for it's blaring beauty, not to mention the fact that it's probably true.

Formed in 1995 from a group of art school friends, Les Savy Fav have released three full-length albums and a host of singles, which were gathered in the superb Inches compilation back in 2004. They are notorious for controlling every aspect of their output, right down to the record label on which they release, Frenchkiss, which was started by bassist and band co-founder Syd Butler and is now home to other rising independents such as The Hold Steady, Thunderbirds are Now! and Call Me Lightning. Running a successful label likely contributed somewhat to Les Savy Fav's hiatus from the studio, and Let's Stay Friends has been a long time in the making. But, back on their war horse, the band resumed making albums as perfect as possible, leveraging pent up ideas and enthusiasm.

Perfect it may not be, but as perfect as possible it might, and Let's Stay Friends certainly has more than enough fervor to make it one of the more refreshing punk purist releases since Fugazi laid down a baker's dozen of songs in the last century. Recorded in their hometown of New York City, Let's Stay Friends brings in a notable and diverse mix of guests to shore up its foundation. Eleanor Friedberger from Fiery Furnaces lends her rich voice in a duet with Harrington, the Violent Femmes-inspired "Comes & Goes," and it's as amusingly off-key melodic as anything from that trio of acoustic punkers. Nicholas Thorburn from Islands/Unicorns lends some back up as well, all members of Enon are on hand, Emily Haines plays piano, and Modest Mouse drummer Joe Plummer adds some kit work to expand the percussion. Speaking of which, the best guest spot comes courtesy of Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen, a percussion afficionado who plays drums on "Patty Lee" and the Pavement-esque opener "Pots & Pans."

Like all solid punk records, Let's Stay Friends is raw and short, the twelve tracks clocking in at under forty minutes. As expected, production values are crude, borderline thin at times. Although this sonic deficiency doesn't detract from the energy of the output, a bit more from the bass end of the frequency would've been welcome. The bottom line is that Les Savy Fav are a band that know where they're going, and their individualistic resolve is appetizing in a nation with too many musical cookie cutters.

The Fav state it best themselves in the thinly veiled first lines of the record: "There was a band/ called the Pots & Pans/ They made this noise/ that people couldn't stand/ And when they toured/ all across the land/ The people said no no no/ the people said no no no / But the drummer said yes yes yes/ this tour is a test." True that, and Let's Stay Friends does gleefully fly in the face of the mainstream; and for those who appreciate the unbridled, it passes with flying colors.

Reviewed by Ari Shapiro
A staff writer for LAS, Ari Shapiro mixes up pretty unique smoothies at XOOM in hot Tucson.

See other reviews by Ari Shapiro



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