LES SAVY FAV: Let’s Stay Friends [Frenchkiss]

Les Savy Fav’s deserved reputation as a rowdy, irrepressibly fun live act has often overshadowed any serious intentions in its tunes. Without singer Tim Harrington’s bodystocking-beard-breaking-shit show to watch, his yelps and Seth Jabour’s volcanic arena-rock guitar are inherently too boisterous to breed contemplation. But back on the band’s 2000 Rome EP, Harrington heartily groused that “The Empire State/Made out of ginger cake/Came crumbling down/Before we had a taste.” On Let’s Stay Friends, Harrington implores people to party like it’s 1999. Is this the sort of party politics obsessed with how great loft jams used to be or the sort that inserts a little politics into LSF’s boundless, rocking joy? At the very least, political underpinnings are here. Some are heavily coded (“Brace Yourself”), and some are in the form of indie-culture civics lessons (“Pots And Pans,” “Jenny Lee,” “The Lowest Bitter”). “Raging In The Plague Age,” which pumps it up like early U2 if Bono liked Black Sabbath instead of, you know, God, features the kind of narrative lyrics LSF is best at, with make-believe and historical allusion morphed into political critique. (In this case, a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque Of The Red Death, which taunts the folly of isolationism and ignorance). Guests on Let’s Stay Friends include Enon and the Fiery Furnaces’ Eleanor Friedberger (whose breathy duet on “Comes And Goes” has her playing Jane Birkin to Harrington’s steroidal Serge Gainsbourg). This heady mix of stratospheric rockers and inventive, smart and slyly revolutionary lyrics yields Les Savy Fav’s best album yet. []

—J. Gabriel Boylan