Ditching the high-octane act Les Savy Fav manifested in their green days of 3/5, the snarly New York indie rockers are back and armed with a bit more modesty as they explore the remnants of the post-hardcore/art rock scene.
Their fifth album, Root for Ruin, kickstarts with the anthemic “Appetites”, blasting call-and-repeat cries and snot-nosed shouts that tiptoe the line of formulaic political punk. The bass drum in “Excess Energies” is contagious and the lyrics of “Lips ‘n Stuff” spit sexual repression, but somewhere along the way things got contrived.
Locking down the sound of 2007's Let's Stay Friends, Les Savy Fav shies away from reinvention and experimentation in a waning attempt to recreate their success. Lackluster “Sleepless in Silverlake” all but rubs out the band’s wild-eyed past and musical pickup-line tune, “Let’s Get Out of Here”, leaves the album more flaccid than a visit to grandma’s house.
Whether it’s them or the mainstream that’s losing traction and falling into the other’s orbit, one thing is certain: the shock has disengaged, the angsty fuzz has been swept up, and Root for Ruin has been left with a bleach-speckled version of early oughts nostalgia.