I can’t say that I’ve heard of Les Savy Fav before only a few months ago. I never would have guessed they are over a decade old, and in their long careers have only released four full-length albums, with Let’s Stay Friends being the New York quartet’s most recent.
It’s been six years since the band released Go Forth, and many people wondered whether LSF would still be a band after such a long hiatus. A new album always assuages such concerns, and interestingly Friends opens with a song “Pots & Pans” that has the melody and humdrum guitar beat normally reserved for an album-ending, band break-up swansong. However, the song’s second half features an audience crowd in the background (obviously a nod to the band’s highly regarded live act) and the final lyric “This band’s a beating heart and it’s nowhere near its end.” Lyrics like that usually bring forth breakup concerns as well.
The band has a hypnotic way of balancing its post punk sound with a more contemporary soothing indie one like in “The Year Before The Year 2000” where it begins with a soft intro that leads into a more rambunctious chorus and restarting the same way. “Kiss Kiss Is Getting Old” and “What Wolves Do” are likewise.
However, this pattern isn’t reproduced in the album’s track order. The slow tempo “Brace Yourself” is followed by the garage rockfish “Rage In The Plague Ages,” the very punkish “Slugs In The Shrubs,” and the before-mentioned “Kiss Kiss.” I supposed Les Savy Fav was trying not to be too predictable, but the songs do share rhythmic similarities that add to the album’s careful consistency.
The last tracks represent the most distinction. “Comes And Goes” is a noticeable departure that borders on folk while the sounds of “Scotchguard The Credit Card” evoke Clash memories. Despite not knowing much about the band’s history, the album-ending “The Lowest Bitter” seems self-reflective (“We've been bought and we've been sold / They try but they can't keep hold”) and optimistic of the future (“We seem to need some way to vanish all these stains”). The latter appears to be truer, otherwise “Pots & Pans” would have been last.