Review Summary: Root For Ruin is a good album, but it's just a little too familiar and basic to be greatRoot For Ruin
doesn't tread any new ground for Les Savy Fav, but, at this point in their career, why should
a band like Les Savy Fav tread any new ground? They're about as established as an indie/post-punk-revival band can get in these days of blogs and Mediafire and trendy, soon-to-be-defunct sh
it like Altered Zones; hell, they're only a few more solid albums away from being an institution. And Root For Ruin
is just basically a solid
album, finding the band whittling down the varied Let's Stay Friends
into its bare-bones essentials, leaving behind a swirling melting pot of the chaotic, of the catchy, of the danceable, all blending together so finely it's hard even to see the individual ingredients, sometimes to a fault.
It's so smooth, this record, that it's sometimes too
smooth, to the point to being slight. Root For Ruin
is such a tight, focused post-punk record that discovering its more thrilling moments -- like when "Let's Get Out of Here" condenses into little more than shouted declarations of its title and discordant, chiming riffs, or how much cooler the buzzsaw guitars and ominous vocals of "Poltergeist" sound after every subsequent listen -- can take some time. That isn't to say Root For Ruin
is inaccessible; it's far from it. In fact, with Tim Harrington's vocals cleaner and his songwriting more direct than ever, some of Root For Ruin
is catchy enough to deliver on a much-deserved radio breakthrough that's eluded the band for years. It's just that much of Root For Ruin
, especially the more sluggish and same-y middle section between high-octane thrashers "Dirty Knails" and "Excess Energies", is so straightforward and by-the-numbers that it can be hard to find much to really care about.
But when Root For Ruin
hits, man, it really hits hard. Songs like "Clear Spirits" and "Excess Energies", in particular, offer some of the most thrilling choruses and moments of any song I've heard from 2010 to date. I guess I was proven wrong, though: Les Savy Fav do, in fact, need to progress in order to stay interesting, or else they just get a little flaccid, a little too disengaging. But even if Root For Ruin
is little more than a reaffirmation of a band's awesomeness, at least it's a good one.