Les Savy Fav – 3/5

Eight years ago (has it really been that long?) an enterprising group of Rhode Island School of Design grads put out an auspicious, frantic, and delightfully unconstrained album of spontaneous guitar rock. Since that promising debut, 3/5, the group, amongst other things, released three other full-lengths and an EP, changed members, and gained an imposing fan base in the realm of underground music, all while evading the allure of major labels and, perhaps to their chagrin, mainstream radio. Though their later endeavors proved more attractive than the aforementioned debut, it is now being given a new opportunity for appreciation through a reissue by a label, Frenchkiss, featuring Les Savy Fav member Syd Butler at its helm.

It would be understandable (if not a bit predictable) to hear a chorus of “true” LSF fans taunt those who latched on with Inches, Go Forth, or the Rome EP for missing out on the band’s album which most closely bridges their frenetic live shows with the tidiness expected from a professional recording. 3/5 contains an amount of energy unparalleled by most competitors. Then again, the record has long been out of print and was never quite widespread in the first place, so those us of – yes, I’ll be modest and admit my own negligence of early LSF – who missed it the first time around can now happily enjoy a reissue, though the new disc doesn’t bring anything peripheral to the actual album aside from new packaging. It might just be better that way.

3/5 has all the sounds of a group in development, unhampered by the obligations which plague veteran rockers. There’s no hesitation, there’s no excess, and there’s no need for posterity; everything is straightforward and propulsive, designed to both reflect and fuel the attitudes of a fledging band and its members. Guitars squall against and with one another, a covert bass grumbles and fights for space with the aforementioned guitars, drums entertain a less-is-more approach (and to much success), and all the while Tim Harrington abuses the line separating singing and shrieking like it has been revealed only he is capable, though several contemporaries – for instance, labelmates The Plastic Constellations – have attempted to no avail. The songwriting process appears to be majestically organic, like a band flexing chops onstage rather than in the studio.

It’s an odd feeling that one of my most beloved discs from 2006 has an actual release date of 1998, but I won’t let that encumber my enthusiasm, and neither should anyone in the market for a truly visceral experience. A must-have for fans and neophytes alike.