Savages

Adore Life

Written by: MIN on 22/01/2016 11:30:35

The London-based post-punk band, Savages, is often the cause for much division among fans of punk and rock. Despite having a lot of fans both in- and outside the underground, Savages have been accused of being more of a work of “style and attitude over songwriting” than a band containing any real substance. To some, the music of Savages have struck a chord that other bands of this particular “revival” did not; for others, Savages remain a black/white piece of work too anonymous to relate to. If you take a look at the new album-cover for Savages sophomore album, “Adore Life”, it’s still black and white. A clenching fist held up high; thirty-forty years ago, this would probably have been the epitome of what it means to be punk, but today it seems more passé. But then you notice that album-title: “Adore Life”. And then you listen to the album. And suddenly, you realize that Savages aren’t forcing any style or form of aggression down your throat.

“Adore Life” still contains many dark and ominous corners, but overall, the record is a lot more positive than “Silence Yourself”, the band’s debut LP. It feels like a band trying to escape the dark clutches of a niche they’ve been pigeonholed into: The title itself suggests it, and so do songs like “T.I.W.Y.G” (“This is what you get (when you mess with love)”), “The Answer” (“Love is the answer”) and several others. Although some of the messages the band is trying to get across occasionally feel somewhat awkward in their honesty, it’s nice to hear that they can sing about something more welcoming than sadomasochistic sex.

The album has been produced by Johnny Hostile and mixed by Trentemøller, and it’s easy to tell that Savages new album relies a lot on electronic elements. The song “Surrender” is probably the most obvious example of this as it contains thick bass layers, drops and keyboards – it almost feels like something off last years “In Colour” by Jamie XX. You could almost say that Savages suddenly sound a lot more like New Order than Joy Division (who they’ve so often been compared to in the past). Another result of this inclusion of electronics is the cohesion throughout the album: On “Silence Yourself”, the band often made transitions of their own through screeching guitars; on this, they’re made through the huge production value and “wall of sound”-effect that’s created. And honestly, it’s a shame. Sure, the album sounds rich, full and overall nice and polished, but it takes away some of the organic musicianship and sharp tones that previously existed.

But this doesn’t mean that Savages, the band itself, doesn’t know how to deliver the goods. The rhythm section created through bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton is still a powerhouse of its own, ranging from tumbling and pounding to slick and smooth. Guitarist Gemma Thompson is still talented and versatile as hell, and Jehnny Beth still screams and shrieks through the core of her marrow, only this time around it feels more controlled. Taking the song “Adore” as an example, her smooth vocals flawlessly charms above the wandering rhythm section and subtle guitar-picking, but when the song reaches the chorus, her singing sways without ever sounding too wild. And just before you think she’s become tame, the song climaxes and her pipes reach a whole new level.

The slow pace witnessed in this song is showcased quite a lot on “Adore Life”, although with varying success. The aforementioned “Adore” plus the album-closer, the genuine ballad “Mechanics”, nails this songwriting, but a song like “Slowing Down the World” is a snoozer. Luckily, the album has its fair share of intense songs. As soon as you put on the album, you might think you’ve put on an album by British stadium-rockers, Muse, as the first song, “The Answer” sounds like Muse’s “Assassin” with its crunching and energetic riff. Milton’s drumming is ferocious and unpredictable and Hassan’s bass-playing crushes while following Thompson’s guitar, which ranges from fast to hypnotic and almost Egyptian sounding notes.

Ultimately, “Adore Life” is a good follow-up to a great album where Beth and co. still know how to deliver excellent musicianship and songwriting despite some obvious changes. The album is cleaner, not only in terms of production, but also in terms of songwriting. Although some songs still contain lyrics about sex and cocaine, they feel less controversial. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to the individual listener. You could say that Savages have traded in some of their mysticism and cool for a fuller sound and mass appeal. This album will definitely open up doors for Savages and help them make new fans – let’s just hope they don’t alienate the ones they already have.

7

Download: The Answer, Evil, Mechanics
For The Fans Of: New Order, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Iceage
Listen: facebook.com/savagestheband

Release date 22.01.2016
Matador Records

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