Album Cover
Les Savy Fav
April 20, 2004


I hate singles compilations. They're just not albums. Don Caballero's Singles Breaking Up, for example, or Arab on Radar's The Stolen Singles - yes, those are the only examples I can think of at the moment - may have a few good songs on 'em, but they're just a tangled mess of songs, wildly varing in style between them and just stuck together in a line, with little to no continuity between them. The result is more or less invariably all over the place, unlistenable and forgettable.

Well, shut my mouth, 'cause this puppy here is sixty-three inches of rock-solid Savy Fav. It's got its ups and downs, granted, but Inches, a compilation of the band's nine 7" singles, has got itself a purpose: the spiraling devolution of rock. Starting at the end and working backwards, we begin with a refined, angular art-punk band and, seventy minutes later and eight years earlier, come out the other end of a sloppy group of young start-up ruffians out to give you flak. The mid to late '90s are totally back!

(How does it work? Here's how it works.)

The cover art from the singles making up this compilation tile together to show the cover art of the complication itself.

Besides being a pretty novel idea, this also lends Inches a sense of continuity that makes it a bona fide album. Apparently the band had had this album in mind for its entire lifespan and wrote their 7" singles accordingly. Even as the band deteriorates in front of you, the songs' mean quality doesn't drop in the slightest (actually, it increases a bit). Yes, Inches is more than the sum of its constituent inches, it is an album. And it's pretty damn good.

"We got old, we got good, and we did all we said we would," growls Tim Harrington on "Meet Me in the Dollar Bin", a bloopy combination of synths and screechy guitars that opens the album as well as lyrically introducing the theme of the band's reversed evolution.

The album peaks with "Yawn, Yawn, Yawn", combining a compellingly 7/8 foundation with an addictive, stuttered chorus. "I wanna get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get-get it on," exuberates Harrington, and yeah, you believe him.

The dramatic reading of "Reformat" is a strangely out of place little side path, a dramatization of the story of Jacque Vernaise, a submarine captain who commits mutiny against his crew, who then die, and Vernaise is put to death by guillotine. We hear it happening on the boat, we hear the response of a victim's parents, we hear it from the point of view of the news anchor. A jarring slice ends the track - "Cut away," moans the anchor, and a quick cut to static. A little bizarre, but fascinating and strangely affecting.

"Rodeo" opens exactly kind of the same way as Interpol's "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down", and is the perfect closer, rambunctious and messy, but magnificent. "Fav," Harrington screams, "Les Savy Fav, Les Savy Fav, that's our name!" devolving the band to its most basic foundations, and then all of a sudden the band haven't been born yet, and they grow new eyes, like Geordi.

The album also comes with a bonus DVD, which kinda makes me wish I, you know, had the actual thing. Oh well. The DVD includes such features as track-by-track commentary by the band and some of their friends, including David Cross and Fred Armisen. I hate Fred Armisen, too.

Noah Jackson

Track List

  1. Meet Me in the Dollar Bin
  2. Hold On to Your Genre
  3. We'll Make a Lover of You
  4. Fading Vibes
  5. The Sweat Descends
  6. Knowing How the World Works
  7. Hello Halo, Goodbye Glands
  8. Obsessed With the Excess
  9. One Way Window
  10. Yawn, Yawn, Yawn
  11. No Sleeves
  12. Reprobates Resume
  13. Reformat (dramatic reading)
  14. Reformat (live)
  15. Bringing Us Down
  16. Our Coastal Hymn
  17. Blackouts on Thursday
  18. Rodeo