Les Savy Fav 2024
Photo: Tell All Your Friends PR

Les Savy Fav Stretch Their Sound on ‘OUI, LSF’

Les Savy Fav’s OUI, LSF is an energetic blast of post-punk that makes many of the newer bands in that scene sound pale in comparison.

Les Savy Fav
10 May 2024

Les Savy Fav occupy a singular place in the music landscape, one of the more respected and longest-running active post-punk bands, and with good reason. To label Les Savy Fav as the Jesus Lizard-goes-new-wave is reductive, but with the hooky, synth-driven songs played by a totally locked-in set of bandmates that anchor the frequently hilarious, occasionally touching, always unhinged insights of lead singer Tim Harrington, who crowd-surfed in a garbage can at the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival while doing his best Oscar the Grouch, it fits.

For the uninitiated, this is an energetic blast of post-punk that makes a lot of the newer wave of bands in that scene sound pale in comparison. For those of us who vacillate between screaming at a wall and laughing at the absurdity of life, pursuing some pleasure where we can find it, OUI LSF is about as good a soundtrack for those activities as you can hope for.

During the hiatus between their latest, OUI LSF, and their previous effort, Root for Ruin, band members took jobs, lost jobs, started and grew families, and generally met the benchmarks of mid-life. Seth Jabour and Syd Butler have been playing with Girls Against Boys’ Eli Janney and Fred Armisen in the 8G Band on Late Night with Seth Meyers. Andrew Reuland worked as a film editor and writer. Harrington wrote and illustrated children’s books and became a creative director. Harrison Haynes transitioned from teaching to fine art. The album cover art’s grass was grown at Harrington’s house, where they recorded. It’s an apt, if on the nose, metaphor for the stretching that occurs over the 14 tracks that make up OUI LSF, a record with some of the wildest swings the band has made. Lyrically, this is more in line with some of the more somber tracks like Let’s Be Friends highlights, “Scotchguard the Credit Card” and “Comes and Goes”.

The mood is summed up by one line in the brief, groove-based “Dawn Patrol”: “If the world ends this morning, I’m pretty much fine.” Opener “Guzzle Blood” lurches along, with the synths taking center stage. Harrington mentioned in the press notes that this song is a “total disillusion–a loss of faith, frustration, anguish”. It sounds exactly like that. “Limo Scene” has a propulsion that recalls Les Savy Fav’s 2001 signature, Go Forth, with an instantly memorable guitar-based hook and a fascinating backstory. It is an odd choice to follow “Guzzle Blood” because it is so locked into its lower-key catchiness that it doesn’t seek to claim the crown like the equally sordid second track “The Equestrian” on 2007’s Let’s Stay Friends.

Les Savy Fav built their reputation on noisy, high-energy tracks, and they deliver their fair share of those in the middle of OUI LSF. Things pick up with “Void Moon”, “Mischief Night”, and “What We Don’t Don’t Want” all in a row. “Legendary Tippers” nods to LL Cool J and is filled with Harrington’s signature boastful wit. “Barbs and “OI! Division” are two more classic Les Savy Fav rippers, with the latter plowing along as Harrington repeats, “Ninety-nine tears, one vicious lover” and “You have to network if you want to get work.” These types of one-liners are his stock-in-trade, from as early as “Who Rocks the Party?” on The Cat and the Cobra.\

The aforementioned “Dawn Patrol” and the instrumental “Racing Bees” surround “Somebody Needs a Hug”, which is supremely catchy, with weary lyrics. “Don’t Mind Me” is a somber ballad played straight that nods toward Perfume Genius, but it does have a funny/sad classic Harrington line in “You used to love me / Now you just don’t mind me.” Another stretch is the quieter, country-tinged “Nihilists”. These experiments are mostly successful, but it takes a couple of listens to really gel. Closer “The World Got Great” ends the record on a humorous and optimistic note only Harrington could come up with, “I hope someday we can say / We were there when the world got great / We helped to make it that way.”

With Les Savy Fav members closing in on 50, they seem to be embracing the freedom that comes with caring less about perception as the years progress. Even though they have a signature sound, the live wire unpredictability of Harrington primes fans for some experiments laced with the signature humor. With many of the more energetic songs stacked up against each other, it’s possible that a resequence would make it really pop. While OUI, LSF’s experiments may take a little time to appreciate, it does feature plenty of instant gratification for those on their singular wavelength. Hopefully, it won’t take another decade to get the next one. 

RATING 7 / 10