London-based post-punk revivalists Savages return with their sophomore effort Adore Life, via Matador Records. This record is a continuation of their harsh, relentlessly brooding assailment that brought the band to critical acclaim off the heels of their 2013 debut Silence Yourself. Again we have Jehnny Beth’s agonizing howl, joined by Gemma Thompson’s ferociously swerving guitar, Ayse Hassan’s bombarding bass, and Fay Milton’s mechanized percussion. Their music conjures up the dark, icy-edge of late-70s art rock of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Public Image Ltd. You get the picture.
Savages made quite the stir when they first came into the spotlight. To some, their antics can be quite unsettling. Silence Yourself was a political album, it was preceded by a manifesto on their website, which was also recited at the beginning the video for “Shut Up”, an aptly titled tune. At live shows directions were posted outside of hosting music venues, instructing attendees to politely turn off their mobile devices. In other words, please silence yourself.
Ok, not exactly your run of the mil request from an indie band in 2013. But ok. Fine, I’ll turn off my phone.
Their hopes were simple. To turn their music into an immersive experience. To alleviate you from the world’s modern ‘distractions’. While most indie bands might jump at the opportunity for free exposure via social media, Savages sought to have their music be the absolute center-piece. They want to be taken very, very seriously. In a world where we seldom think twice before taking out our phones and unapologetically snapping pictures of our idols, perhaps their manifesto isn’t so absurd after all.
Savages is here to make music. They’re no gimmick.
With Adore Life, Savages bring us an album about the most primordial human emotion of all: love. But like their stance on music, politics and art, their discussion on the subject of love is deadly serious. No holding hands in the park and sharing an ice cream cone, no. We’re talking about love as a societal-balancing scale.
Beth goes through all of love’s permutations. In “The Answer“, love is a source of jealousy. Beth states, “If you don’t love me / you don’t love anybody” followed by the plea “sleep with me / and we’d still be friends / or I know / I’ll go insane.” In “Adore”, love is temptation, “If only I’d hidden my lust / And starved a little bit more / Is it human to adore life?” In “Evil”, love is a political instrument blockading us from true happiness: “only one way to raise a family / I squeeze your brain ’til you forget / why is it you’re afraid?” In “Sad Person”, love is a psychosis: “love is a disease / the strongest addiction I know / what happens in the brain / is the same as the rush of cocaine / the more you have / the more you crave.” In “T.I.Y.W.G.” we’re faced with irresistible physical passion: “this is what you get when you mess with love?” followed by “All you want is that feeling again…I saw a no become a yes”. Adore Life discusses love as a boundless, size-less, shapeless entity.
Savages are serious as a band as they are about the love, but you’ve considered these ramifications before. Many times before. It’s simple: absorb and spread love throughout, and at the end of the day, Adore Life.