I’m admittedly transfixed by Savages, London-based oh-so-serious postpunk/art rock quartet formed in 2011, who are touring around their new release, ADORE LIFE, in 2016. They are:
- Jehnny Beth (Camille Berthomier), lead singer
- Gemma Thompson, lead guitar
- Ayse Hassan, bassist
- Fay Milton, drums
Serious as a heart attack, perennially clad in black, they have a punchy live presence that’s icy-cool and intense that conjures up specters of Joy Division, Siouxsie Sioux, Bauhaus, hints of Gang of Four and Fugazi, even early U2 (as in the song below):
Frenchwoman Jehnny Beth channels Ian Curtis, looks kind of like she could be the little sister of Antonio Banderas, and radiates intensity and charisma as frontwoman. Ayse Hassan, the bassist, is a phenom — she’s got mad skills with bass, and really anchors their sound.
Guitarist Gemma Thompson rocks the pedals to create evocative washes of scalding sound on a Fender Mustang, while Fay Milton pounds away relentlessly on the drums.
I haven’t listened to their new album, yet, but will, and will review it soon enough. Kudos to Matador for signing this band. I’m not entirely sure if they’ll be able to ride the postpunk pony successfully to the horizon, but some of their efforts are icily incendiary and anthemic, picking and choosing some that I particularly liked below:
Postpunk always presents a challenge over the long haul, because of the coldness of it, and the claustrophobic confines of the concept of it. The best postpunk bands have managed to endure through being able to create a lasting moment that holds up over time. But the narrative straitjacket of postpunk could be daunting for Savages. Time will tell.
But those challenges remind of a pretty obscure band that I liked, Astral, who drew heavy influences from the Cure and Joy Division, and who had released a pretty good, moody album, ORCHIDS (2003). it plays like a soundtrack for some dystopian apocalypse. Anyway, there are, perhaps, lessons, risks and opportunities for a band like Savages to navigate in this area, and we’ll see if they do. I’m also reminded of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who I really liked, too.
We’ll see how ADORE LIFE plays out when I give it a list. They’re touring the States, including Chicago, so I’m going to catch them live when they’re in town.