In the day and age of postmodern detachment, anthemic indie-rock is a few steps away from the endangered genre list. And perhaps thankfully so – the scene already is swarming with shallow boy-rock entities. After patiently lurking in the shadows of mid-decade post-punk, Les Savy Fav bursts onto the scene with The Cat and the Cobra (French Kiss Records).
At first glance, Les Savy Fav might be dismissed as a predictably over-the-top band, with an ability for banging out ironic mock-anthems. It also is easy to view the New York quintet as the suave Frankenstein of its 1990s post-punk predecessors.
Listeners easily can spot the influence of bands such as Brainiac and Nation of Ulysses, with a dash of guitar textures courtesy of Fugazi. On a bad day, the band even might be mistaken for Cake hopped up on speed and high-fashion. But upon closer look, Les Savy Fav’s sophomore album reveals that the band has come into its own.
The Cat and the Cobra has a faux-revolutionary feel to it. The band incorporates an innate sense of frantic energy that is as unrelenting as it is charming. The album opens with “The Orchard.” In the track, sinister bass lines prowl beneath angular guitar textures, and urgent percussion is paired with vocal ranting to propel the entire mix. This formula is standard for Les Savy Fav, and the group takes it to a high point with “The End.”
In “The End,” singer Tim Harrington maniacally shouts, “On this night we must demand/Let the microscopes be damned/Put the hammers in our hands.”
Although listeners may have no idea what he’s talking about, they will believe him. On occasion, Harrington manages to come back to Earth, most noticeably on “Who Rocks the Party?” Mimicking the classic hip-hop mantra, Harrington asks, with sneering white-boy panache, “Who rocks the party that rocks the body?”
The answer: Les Savy Fav. But when does the party end? Les Savy Fav exhibits little, if any, restraint on The Cat and the Cobra. This unfortunately allows a collection of individually explosive rock songs to give way to a rather monotonous compilation on the album. The instruments are constantly exploding, the tempos are always fast, and the vocalist is on the verge of collapse. The obligatory ballad “Roadside Memorial” is particularly weak and is inserted only to give the band members a chance to catch their breath.
Although Les Savy Fav might be breathing life into the corpse of punk, the band only comes up with uniform results. Still, many of the songs are exhilarating and seemingly sincere. The band’s inability to restrain itself may be a blessing in disguise, but the disguise is a convincing one. Les Savy Fav is inviting you to the most outrageous costume party on the block.
Les Savy Fav will be performing at the Black Cat Thursday.
For more information on Les Savy Fav, go to <a href=http://www.lessavyfav.com. www.lessavyfav.com