Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Les Savy Fav

  • Let's Stay Friends [Frenchkiss, 2007] A
  • Root for Ruin [Frenchkiss, 2010] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Let's Stay Friends [Frenchkiss, 2007]
Six years after their last "true" album, these much-bruited postpunk brutalists kick off with "Pots & Pans," a song about a much-disparaged band of that name that echoes the Archers of Loaf's Greatest of All Time--the subject of which was "the world's worst rock 'n' roll band." "Pots & Pans" concerns "bands that make you sick." It promises that, in contrast, "this band's a beating heart and it's nowhere near its end." And the album that follows puts its melody where its lyric is with the most recognizable set of songs they've ever begrudged their angular guitar bruit. Material's still angular, arranged in the finest postpunk fashion. But now you can hum it--and parse it. Sex riding bareback. Double-barreled homage to "1999" (the song) and 2001 (not the movie). Plague song. Death song--well, maybe death-of-love song. Death-of-love song sans ifs or buts. And finally, band-survival song. Dull climax, I agree. But by then, they've come again and again. A

Root for Ruin [Frenchkiss, 2010]
Root as in cheer and root as in stick your snout in the mud, and though I wish their vision of apocalypse had more finance and less earthquake in it, maybe the protagonists of the lead "Appetites" cover that option. The reason you'll care is that these guys came to understand how much Fugazi would be improved by songcraft and also how to provide same. The reason you may not care all that much is that the songs do cheer ruin on. "Excess Energies," which depicts a scenemaker's progress from fake ID to broke 35 and beyond, feels more autobiographical than it probably is. "Lips 'n Stuff" celebrates and dissects the friends-with-benefits trap. A-