Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Les Savy Fav, !!!

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"What we don't know / Could fill a truck / What we don't know / Cannot hurt us," declares Tim Harrington at the start of Les Savy Fav's new Go Forth (Frenchkiss). Well, actually it can, as the Brooklyn quartet and the rest of country have discovered in recent months. But the song was recorded before September 11, and those lines deserve to be taken in the spirit in which they're delivered: as an invitation to shed our inhibitions and go nuts along with Harrington, a wall climber of a front man who once spent most of a Valentine's Day set playing spin the bottle with the audience. Go Forth (the band's third LP) distills the sharp, roiling thump of Les Savy Fav's live show better than any of their previous releases, as Harrington yelps fortune-cookie philosophy streams like "Crawling Can Be Beautiful" ("It sure beats standing still / Crawling on your hands and knees / Takes self-control and skill") and "Disco Drive" ("Sometimes jobs turn into vacations"). Then there's the amazing "Adopducted," in which the singer dreams of being "kidnapped / By a guy with a mustache / And a chick with an eyepatch." They hold him for ransom; his parents refuse to pay. His abductors end up raising him as their own, and he comes to prefer them to his real family--by the end he's lamenting, "Although we got so close, you know / They never even told me their real names." Ho-kay. Which reminds me: the name of the band Les Savy Fav is touring with, !!!, is pronounced as "any three repetitive sounds that you wanna say," singer Nic Offer reveals on "Freak the Funk," included on the recent Troubleman Mix-Tape compilation (Troubleman). The variation I like best is "chik chik chik," which sorta evokes the tense early-80s art-funk the band mines--the Bush Tetras, Pigbag, ESG, even Of Human Feelings-era Ornette Coleman. At first the combo of jittery, trebly guitar, nervous vocals, and sour horn parts with expansive dance rhythms on their self-titled album (on Gold Standard Laboratories) sounded more like an academic exercise in postpunk revivalism than a serious groove workout, but by the third listen I was dancing too hard to care. Thursday, November 8, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. !!! also plays that evening at 5 at Reckless Records, 1532 N. Milwaukee; 773-235-3727.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Andrew Paynter.

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