Beg Your Pardon by SAVAKRelease date: November 9, 2018
Label: Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Beg Your Pardon is the third album from Brooklyn’s SAVAK, a band of time served veterans featuring former members of Holy Fuck, Obits, The Cops and Nation of Ulysses. They first came to our attention in the UK last year when they toured with Grey Hairs and they’ll be back any day now for a handful of dates to support the launch of this album. They play a kind of melodic, post-hardcore, power pop that’ll have you tapping a toe and singing along in pretty short order. It’s not as oddball and scattershot as Guided By Voices, nor as emotionally overdriven as Sugar but it’s out there somewhere in the verdant forest between.
In comparison with their various past bands it finds them lightening up and relaxing a little bit. Not that it’s laid back or sloppy at all, we seem to join opener ‘Dead Dick’ already four bars in and charging for the finish line.
The songs zip by, smartly constructed, never overplaying their hand. As it breaks the four minute mark ‘Agronomy Domine’ starts to seem a bit of an epic. They follow it with a triple whammy of short, sharp punk tunes. Each of them taking a different route to the same pulse racing end.
‘Our Savage Wit’ opens on baritone sax and takes a sunny psychedelic turn. It signals the expanded sonic palette of the last few songs which winds through to a lovely final minute of saxophone and bass clarinet at the end of ‘They Are Not Like Us’.
SAVAK describe themselves as a rock ‘n’ roll band, which is vague to the point of unhelpful and at the same time instructive of their approach. Clearly they are not 50’s revivalists or leather trousers and Jack Daniels rock ‘n’ rollers. Nor are they interested in setting themselves apart or in opposition to it. They’re refreshingly short of posturing and cliché. The first lines of ‘We Lead Them To Our Doors’ lay out their position “You once claimed that rock ‘n’ roll was dead, just like painting is what you said, why do anything when everything’s been done”.
SAVAK embrace the idea of rock ‘n’ roll as wide ranging tradition to which they’re happy to belong, even if it may have run its course. As they see it there are still good times and good tunes to be had. At different points on Beg Your Pardon I’m reminded of Cheap Trick, R.E.M., The Flamin’ Groovies, Pixies, Mercury Rev, Husker Du and more besides. A thread running through them all leads me back to the knowing half smile of Alex Chilton. It’s that winning blend of classicism and iconoclasm.