Album: Adore Life
Record Label: Matador
Release Date: 22nd January 2016
London quartet approach sexuality and liberal politics in a more mature and structured way on album No. 2
When considering the foundations upon which the initial punk movement structured itself, in the UK at least, London-based quartet Savages seem to fit the bill resplendently. Overt and confident sexuality, a large appetite for musical confrontation via discordant spirit and noise and a seemingly anti-establishment energy were all bursting from the seams of the all-female group on both their debut album Silence Yourself and in their interviews. Whereas, say, The Sex Pistols creative impetus came from total disengagement, Savages' comes from the desire to create an expressionistic testament rather than a knee-jerk middle finger, and that certainly sits at the basis of Adore Life.
Considerably more crafted and mature than its predecessor, Adore Life is more about informed criticism than spit-drenched, youthful abandon. Delving deeper into society's nihilistic perceptions of sexuality and love, it's a record that often tones down its *ahem* savagery in favour of more poignant deductions. Calling from both personal experience and four studious minds, this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Front-woman Jehnny Beth sets the record's afront almost immediately; over Gemma Thompson's grinding guitars on 'The Answer' she coos "sleep with me, we'll still be friends" before goading "I saw the answer, will you go ask her?". Over the galloping goth-rock-indie-disco of 'Evil' she casts a searing eye at more conservative attitudes towards same-sex union, and on the wholesomely slinky, slow-burning waltz of 'Adore' (despite her regret-ridden offerings) she largely rejoices in all-encompassing, universal and human passions as she sings "I understand the urgency of life".
'Slowing Down the World' sees her maintaining absolute control over her sexuality at both a fleshy and more considered level, almost mocking her unnamed lover as she asks "is it for you I beg? Is it for you I pray? Is it for you I lay down anywhere?". Her approach to the desperate need for love and everything in entails on closer 'Mechanics' is a staunch statement of liberal intent and defiance; "When I take a man... or a woman... they're both the same... they're both human".
It might be quite deliberate, but the fact that only 'The Answer', 'Surrender' and 'T.I.W.Y.G' buzz with the cascading, blood-pumping rawness of Silence Yourself sticks out like an ever-so-slightly sore thumb sometimes. It might seem like a natural progression, but the instrumentation on 'Evil' comes across as unfortunately ordinary, and 'Sad Person' is rigidly sensible.
With all of the more adult sense of maturity in tow, Adore Life is still packed with character, idiosyncrasy and righteousness. It doesn't spill over its self-imposed brim with snarling attitude, but it has a more cut-and-dried politics that still wears its going-against-the-grain ethos whole-heartedly on its sleeve. Savages still come across as immovably courageous in their self-conviction, and that should be the crux of their wide-spanning USP.
Key Tracks: 'Adore', 'Slowing Down The World', 'T.I.W.Y.G.'
For Fans Of: Sleater-Kinney, Grave Pleasures