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The Cat and the Cobra

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Album Review

If the Pixies had been obsessive fans of Boston's earlier art-punk heroes Mission of Burma, they might have sounded like Les Savy Fav. The New York quartet captures the edge-of-chaos frenzy that made Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa classics of their time, but rather than exploding into incoherence the way the Pixies were prone to do, Les Savy Fav tend to either ratchet up the tension one more notch, as on the unbearably anxious "We've Got Boxes," or shift into an unexpected dub-style rhythmic section the way that Fugazi or Slint used to. The results are remarkably strong, thanks especially to the ultra-tight (even at top speed) rhythm section of bassist Syd Butler and drummer Harrison Haynes. Singer Tim Harrington also deserves credit for steering (mostly) clear of the usual emo "woe is me" clichés in his lyrics, preferring instead a mixture of concrete imagery and wry, sardonic one-liners. In a scene where the bands are starting to sound as predictable and cookie-cutter as grunge bands became by 1994, The Cat and the Cobra is proof that there's some life left in emo.


Formed: 1995 in Providence, RI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Playing sharp but engaging post-hardcore with complex melodic lines, edgy guitar figures, and plenty of eccentric wit (their name, for instance, sounds French, but doesn't mean anything), Les Savy Fav were formed in 1995 by five friends attending the Rhode Island School of Design. Vocalist Tim Harrington, guitarists Seth Thom Jabour and Gibb Slife, bassist Syd Butler, and drummer Patrick Mahoney began making music together during downtime from their studies, and they spent two years playing clubs...
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