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Les Savy Fav Still Have a Few Surprises Left

On first album since 2010, art-punk dynamos call it a comeback with Oui, LSF
Les Savy Fav (Photo credit: Nick Helderman)

Les Savy Fav – Oui, LSF
Frenchkiss/The Orchard

It’s been 14 years since the last album from Brooklyn art-punk pranksters Les Savy Fav —and even longer since their heyday in the turn-of-the-century Williamsburg scene. Nearly three presidential terms, a pandemic, and, most seriously, two children’s picture books by the band’s singer, Tim Harrington, have occurred in that period. 

That’s a lot of water under the bridge, and, understandably, Les Savy Fav spend a few tracks of Oui, LSF ostentatiously proving that they are so back: The alarm-siren synth and hip-hop-adjacent beats of “Guzzle Blood”; the charging bass and jittery, fist-pumping chorus of “Mischief Night”; the rubicund groove and sassy vocals of “Legendary Tippers”—it all strenuously works to assert Les Savy Fav’s continued relevance, or at least their virility. 

For the most part, the band—Harrington, drummer Harrison Haynes, bassist Syd Butler, and guitarists Seth Jabour and Andrew Reuland—succeed in this quest, packing plenty of juicy heat and sticky humor into their still-tight song structures. While mostly known for their outlandish live show (fueled by Harrington’s antics), Les Savy Fav have always managed to make the sharp corners of post-punk sound like a party, and they still can, even if the festivities might end a bit earlier than they used to. 

There are a few lulls in which the band seems to be capably but perfunctorily going through the motions. (Raspy cheerleader vocals; cheeky rhythms; chunky, anthemic guitars—we get it!) But they’re outnumbered by the more inspired stuff. Plus, a couple numbers stand out as genuine innovations, especially the burbling, wobbly bass and narrated vocals of “Dawn Patrol” (which sounds like a post-rock take on Nada Surf) and the tangy, Pixies-esque guitar and hand-clap percussion of the whimsical “Nihilists.” The world might have changed on Les Savy Fav, but they’ve still got a few surprises left of their own. GRADE: B-

Frenchkiss/The Orchard