Savants is a four-piece psychedelic rock band from Brooklyn. Their sound is decidedly retro. Actually, their entire brand is retro. They release their albums to cassette. They have at least one performance recorded on VHS. This is important because in a time where refinement and clarity are often seen as tools of the establishment, retro has once again become current and cool. Savants—their latest self-titled, self-produced, self-released full-length—sounds like it just crawled out of the late 60s or early 70s, twisted and deformed as it makes its way from the garage to your ears.
The album has strong nods to psychedelic bands of the past, but it doesn’t settle in on any one sub-genre. “Hey Brother” and “View from the Floor” both callout the psych-folk of The Byrds. The aptly titled “Something, Pt. One” is put to bed on a droning sitar sound that George Harrison fans might appreciate. I hear The Doors in many of the songs on Savants, including top-of-the-album rockers “Dream Machine” and “Death Rattle & Roll”—much of this comparison can be traced back to the driving organ riffs, which set Savants apart from many of the guitar-driven psychedelic acts that have emerged in the past decade.
The vocals on Savants are notably different than the Lennon-leaning imitations of Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. They stand at an odd crossroads between the nasally snarl of Bob Dylan and the deadpan talk-sing of Lou Reed, though I can sometimes hear the timbre that’s often associated with Jim Morrison’s voice. The vocals are often washed and set on the same plane as the other instruments, which certainly speaks to the importance of every instrument as the band attempts to establish the Savants sound.
Savants exists in the wake of everything that has already been pulled to the present by Tame Impala, Pond, Foxygen, Temples, and countless other bands. There is no way around these comparisons, but luckily there doesn’t need to be. The beautiful part of any revival is the inherent reminiscence and familiarity—even if those previously mentioned acts beat Savants to the punch, they didn’t really do it first. If nothing else, Savants comes across as earnest—the lo-fi, garage rock production keeps the band from losing a sincerity that often fades as an album is polished.