Home Read Albums Of The Week: Les Savy Fav | Oui, LSF

Albums Of The Week: Les Savy Fav | Oui, LSF

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “It’s impossible to talk about Les Savy Fav without acknowledging that it’s been more than 10 years since the guys released 2010’s Root For Ruin. But it’s not like they had a messy breakup or quit to become bankers. They just had a lot of living to do.

“When we finished our last record, there was a sense that if we were going to do more, we wanted to do something more ambitious,” frontman Tim Harrington says. “I think it took us a while to even get in a space where that was possible.” Remember, these five men — Harrington, Seth Jabour, Syd Butler, Harrison Haynes and Andrew Reuland — have been friends and collaborators since 1995, when they attended Rhode Island School of Design. It takes a beat to shake old habits.

In the interim, the bandmembers have been busy growing their families, taking and losing jobs, and living through the ecstatic and hideous aspects of growing older. Harrington wrote and illustrated children’s books (like 2015’s Noes To Toes You Are Yummy), ran out of money, built an attic studio, wrestled with mental health issues, and got a job-job as a creative director. Butler continued to run his label Frenchkiss (which has released the majority of the band’s albums, including this one), and, along with Jabour, joined Seth Meyers8G Band. Harrison left his career teaching to focus on fine art, while Reuland built a reputation as a film/commercial editor and writer on Adult Swim’s cult show Ballmastrz: 9009.

That onslaught of personal ambitions and adulting could spell death for many bands, but, as Harrington puts it: “The band was never a job, so we can’t get fired and don’t have to quit. We had the time to figure out how to bring the people we’ve become and the people we are as artists together authentically. There’s a chaotic, untethered ecstasy at the centre of the band’s universe. Squaring that with the desire to create stability and the need to endure some grind isn’t easy.”

Over the years, they have continued to perform, always on their own terms, but after a stint at Primavera in 2022, they caught the proverbial songwriting bug once more, sharing demos, jamming in Harrington’s attic, and recording through the heap of DIY and esoteric gear Harrington collected over the last decade. At first, there was no intention of recording an album; they were playing music, not writing it.

“The last record was a lot about holding on. Oui, LSF is the sound of release — no map, no preconceptions, no self-righteous certainty,” Butler says. “There’s nothing like hitting 50 to slap the cocksure vanity off your face.” That’s not to say it was easy. The challenge of learning a new way to write and work together took a lot of letting go. Among the artwork that plasters the attic studio is a piece by Harrington that reads, “Can’t do it how you want. Don’t want to do it how you can,” spiralling into a bloodshot eye. “I put it there as a warning about how easily that fixation can paralyse you,” he says.

The resulting album is a glorious mix of tragedy and comedy — studded with nods to the band’s eclectic musical taste — delightfully weird and utterly them. Album opener Guzzle Blood crashes us into the record like a runaway cop car, setting the tone for the rest of the 14-song suite. “It opens with just a total disillusion — a loss of faith, frustration, anguish,” Harrington says of the song, which speaks of demons haunting your sleep and the battle for salvation.”

World Got Great is a guitar-driven anthem with a delightfully animated video. The track is sing-along inducing, and the video, directed by Emmy-winning Jimbo Matison, leaves you smiling, because who but Les Savy Fav would defeat world-ending monsters with tickle fights and flower power?

“Everything is so computer-generated now, nothing seems sincere,” remarks Matison. “I wanted raw materials and simple ideas to do the talking. We also wanted to have a good time while making this, so why not get back to first grader basics? Can we make a video with cardboard, crayons, and a phone? Hell yeah, we can. Did we buy a $4.99 bubble machine at the dollar store? Yeah, it lasted for about 30 minutes which was just enough time to shoot what was needed. That thing pumped mad bubbles while it worked.

“Can you see cat hair on the closeups? Absolutely. We are a little embarrassed by that, but hey, Skipper is a rad cat and we love him. The finale may look familiar as Fruity Pebbles were used as the colour scheme. It’s a vibrant coloured cardboard explosion. Does this video look ‘out of the box?’ No. Is it boring? No. Mission accomplished.”