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Album Review

Les Savy Fav's spectacular debut, 3/5, opens with a spoken word track appropriately titled "Intro." While beginning a rock album with a speech is unusual enough, even more unusual is the fact that it is entirely in French. Although this is neither the first nor the last brush with the language on this record (which should, one supposes, come as little surprise considering the band adopted a French moniker), nowhere else on 3/5 does it seem as intrusive or alienating to the listener. By the album's third song, "Cut It Out," the true attitude of this Brooklyn five-piece is clear. Skronking, discordant guitars weave a fuzzy, stuttering backdrop against which frontman Tim Harrington animatedly screams lyrics that form jagged, often quite moving short stories. Thoughtful tracks like "Je Taime" and "False Starts" take a considerably less manic approach than most of the bands' other work, and the break in tone helps display the group's talent for writing truly great songs that don't have to be in-your-face. On songs like "Pluto," Les Savy Fav proudly displays influences like Jawbox and Fugazi in their use of sing-speak vocals, thought-provoking lyrics, and angular rhythms, while "Raise Buildings" hints at the Brainiac-esque direction their music takes on future releases like Emor: Rome Upside Down. The album's only real weakness is its muddy, "live in the studio" production quality, which causes the dueling guitars to bleed together into what at becomes, at times, an impenetrable tangle of treble. Syd Butler's basslines are all but buried, and Patrick Mahoney's drumming comes across as being tinny and dull, not to mention that Harrington, with his already strained style of yelling, sounds as though he had to scream at the top of his lungs just to be heard over the din. While the production on future efforts is more flattering musically, 3/5's raw, emotional quality is representative of the band's ferocious live show. Following the release of 3/5, drummer Mahoney was replaced by Harrison Haynes. 2000's Emor: Rome Upside Down was the first Les Savy Fav album recorded as a four-piece (guitarist Gibb Slife parted ways following the release of Les Savy Fav's third album, Cat and the Cobra). ~ Karen E. Graves, Rovi

Biography

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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