Les Savy Fav’s Rome (Written Upside Down) EP (2000)

Rome (Written Upside Down)

Album: Rome (Written Upside Down) EP
Artist: Les Savy Fav
Year: 2000
Reason Featured: #8 Album for Pitchfork’s Top Twenty Albums of 2000
My Favorite Songs: I.C. Timer, Asleepers Union, Hide Me From Next February
Their Grades: Pitchfork (8.7/10)
My Grade: 91%

Anyone looking for a template establishing what makes for a good EP can stop their quest at Les Savy Fav’s Rome. Long playing albums can be permitted moments of meandering and still come out sounding perfect but every second on an extended player needs to count. You only get five songs here, less than twenty minutes of music, but every moment matters. There are upbeat highs and emotive lows not just throughout the short time it takes for the entire thing to play but even within the tracks themselves. When dynamism like that comes into play, you don’t just have to pay attention. It’s impossible not to.

The first lyrics you hear from Tim Harrington are: “On a plain / In a storm / There they played / And there we got born” (I.C. Timer). So speaking of birth, Rome sounds most often like the lovechild of Stephen Malkmus circa Slanted & Enchanted and Isaac Brock circa The Lonesome Crowded West. It’s got Pavement’s sarcastic, clever and profound-almost-by-accident lyrics mixed right down the middle with all Modest Mouse’s shrieking angularities.

“I.C. Timer” invokes God to bless the cyborgs at your door and before the song’s even half over Harrington’s talking about hanging a jury and stringing up a judge. This kind of weirdness and smirking violence is conveyed as much by the wild guitar shifts as it is by the lyrics.But “Hide Me From Next February” is bar none the standout track on Rome. It’s packed with pop philosophical turns of phrase, crunching guitar stabs and a verse devoted to any given tyrant’s immediate family members. On the other songs, the words sound cool but cryptic. On “February,” they carry a Dylanesque sense of mystery matched with meaning. But still, every song on here bleeds calculated intensity and we’re talking for words and music.

Even world leaders have twenty minutes a day to spare. Not spending those minutes with Rome would be a mistake.

Not available on Spotify but check out this awesome video for “Hide Me From Next February”

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