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Savages Adore Life

Savages’ second album, ADORE LIFE, runs after their audacious debut of SILENCE YOURSELF, claiming other chunks of sonic space that they’d already homesteaded. The “postpunk” label gets tossed their way, and their austere look, the preponderance of black and white and their severity might make that stick.


All your bass are belong to Ayse Hassan.


Fay Milton’s got the beat.


Gemma Thompson with her Fender Mustang and Jehnny Beth.

But their music is far more than simply rehashing postpunk. It’s definitely dark in places, but there’s a fiery exuberance in their sound, a cavernously anthemic quality to their tunes that is compulsively listenable. While their debut hits the listener like a tsunami or a whirlwind, this sophomore album is more of a push-pull thing, but this band is in full command of their talents.

They know what they can do, and they do it very well. The first half of ADORE LIFE is stronger than the second half, at least to my ears. “Slowing Down the World” is a cocksure nod to Fugazi.

“Adore” is a seething dirge-ballad that is potent. “Sad Person” is a blast, while “Evil” and “The Answer” are thumpers in their own right.

I like very much that Jehnny Beth doesn’t caterwaul, yelp or shriek her lines — she softly sings them, almost crooning, while backed by her phenomenal bandmates. Ayse Hassan’s bass is a revelation throughout.

She may be my favorite bassist out there right now, with just a cool command of the rhythm that dominates every tune. Fay Milton’s drumming accompanies Hassan’s bass, not the other way around. And Gemma Thompson’s guitar lilts and echoes with sinister abandon.

My least-favorite track on this album is “I Need Something New” (ironic?) and even that is listenable; it’s just not as strong as the other tracks. Neither is the last track, “Mechanics.” “T.W.I.Y.G.” has a bridge in it that conjures up Slint to me, run through Mission of Burma.

This album isn’t as powerful as their debut, but it’s still way better than anything out there right now, and anybody complaining about it is just spoiled and looking for something to whine about.

For all of the comparisons to Siouxsie Sioux’s and PJ Harvey’s vocalizing, I think Jehnny Beth is very much her own singer, with her own style. Yes, there’s a Siouxsiesque warble in there, but she’s got her own particular vocal attack that she uses very well.

I look forward to seeing what Savages comes out with next, and where they go as a band!