Review | Savages

savages art


Savages, Adore Life, Matador

It is a weighty endeavour to emerge with a follow-up to an album as critically acclaimed and fully actualized as Savages’ 2013 debut LP, Silence Yourself, but Savages are not a band that scare easily. With their sophomore follow-up, Adore Life, Savages are back to share their sound and vision with one and all.

Critics easily had a field day huffing and puffing about the audacity of a band who asks its audience to turn their mobiles off during a gig in order to “find better ways of living and experiencing music.” ‘Why so serious?’ accusations inevitably followed with little thought as to why a group of four women with political intent and a dark aesthetic is something to be held suspect when predominantly male groups – say Swans or Public Image LTD., are lauded for their commitments and image. Alas, such is the pernicious double-standard that female artists continue to face.

Thankfully, Savages don’t give a shit about that. When they arrived the first time around, they served up a heaping helping of songs that dealt with the problems currently being slung around the world, with their follow-up, they give some solutions.

First track, aptly titled ‘The Answer’ features lead vocalist Jehnny Beth declaring, “If you don’t love me/don’t love anybody.” Built up around charging guitar, love is revealed to be the answer in the starkest way possible: raw and brutal.

Savages have opened up their sound space, laying down tracks that are a natural result of years of honing their craft on stages across the globe, not worried about taking their time to build up tension and suspense. Toying with the listener, they defiantly stay still in a world that is ever speeding up.

The body of this new collection of songs reference the nuances and brutality of love, touching on elements of BDSM, lust and desire. When taken to their fullest potential, as in ‘Adore’, something truly inspired can be found in a way that only true classics can raise the goosebumps. By far the most compelling, title track, ‘Adore’, reads as a powerful treatise to embracing life in the midst of chaos and uncertainty. When Jehnny Beth hits the upswing swell, declaring “ Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow,” it sounds like the best Patti Smith song never released.

Not all tracks pan out as successfully, however. Instrumentally accomplished though they are, at moments certain lyrical elements fall flat. ‘ Sad Person’, while interesting and intense, nearly drops the ball with lyrics that liken the pangs of love to a rush of cocaine, straying dangerously close to cliché territory. Thankfully, these moments are brief and forgiveable.

Everything seems on the verge of shattering at any moment, but the prowess of bassist Ayse Hasan holds up the weaker moments, at times nearly serving up the bass as a backup vocalist. Guitarist Gemma Thompson’s nimble guitar work slithers around bass and vocals, hooking things in place, bracing for the attack. Formidable drummer, Faye Milton, rounds out the bludgeoning Savages’ signature sound with heart-stopping certitude.

By the time closer track, ‘Mechanics’ is reached, we are able to explore polyamourous sexual allure that embraces all that makes us fundamentally vulnerable: our shared humanity. While not the strongest effort this dynamic band is capable of, this is a rush to the head, heart and loins in a refreshingly candid way. Their message remains vital, and their politics carry an urgency that speaks to the human experience in nuanced tones. Perhaps these 10 tracks are the building blocks to truly sublime future endeavors.

Megan Beard

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