Whilst other bands may change their sound to fit with ‘the scene’, Les Savy Fav stick to their guns and patiently wait for the scene to come to them. Eventually, after sporadic releases and a hiatus that put everyone on edge, in 2007 it happened. They took a step away from their abrasive, noisy, angular sound of old, and the marvellous ‘Let’s Stay Friends’ saw them settle into new territory. Fully realised songs to be enjoyed and cherished rather than merely listened to, it was a rebirth and a contrast. This vastly refined and certainly diverse transformation not only gained them the critical acclaim they long deserved, but the admiration of new and old fans alike. ‘Root For Ruin’ suggests the band have gone full circle, whilst retaining what we loved about the last release.
‘Appetites’ effortlessly sets the scene with a familiar spiky guitar intro that could be mistaken for many of their earlier releases. Its repetitive vocal chant of “We still got our appetites” feels like a mantra, and an apt start to the album. It leads nicely into ‘Dirty Knails’ which continues the pace, a riff heavy monster of a track akin to ‘The Equestrian’ from ‘Go Forth’.
Both ‘Sleepless In Silverlake’ and ‘Let’s Get Out Of Here’ are killer single material; through the small cracks in Tim Harrington’s unusually sentimental, gentle vocals, you can hear a beast trying to escape. The latter of the two builds into an anthem worthy of festival sing-along.
Next, ‘Lips n’ Stuff’ slowly reveals itself as a bit of a monster in hiding, with its stupidly good hook revealed in the last minute of the track: “Let’s pretend we’re innocent / We’re just friends with benefits.’ In many ways, this unconventional approach has become a nuance of their overall sound.
Strangely, the unconventional becomes uninspiring with ‘Poltergeist’, by far the weakest track here, providing little more than morose Joy Division-esque vocals accompanied by reverberated guitars. Fortunately, the rest of the album is excellent. A chaotic mixture of engaging, catchy punk.
‘Root For Ruin’ has managed to combine skilful, passionate and catchy songwriting with balls-out punk ideologies. Less immediate than ‘Let’s Stay Friends’, but by no means less enjoyable; it’s an ample follow up to a release that is difficult to better.