When Savages‘ Silence Yourself burst onto the scene in 2013, with its rock-hard riffs that rocked hard but were never hard rock, it was genuinely refreshing — like a time capsule from the early ’80s that had somehow manage to attract modernism to itself rather than simply aping it, and had somehow managed to get here while entirely missing out grunge and metal.
A totally focused and purposeful blast of pure post-punk energy, it was impossible NOT to wonder to yourself “how the hell do you follow that?” It was such a self-contained artefact, it would have been tragic but understandable if it had remained at that, and no more new Savages material had been forthcoming. Because, really, where WOULD you go after that? Lose that focus, or carry on rocking the same groove?Now, nearly three years later, we get the answer to that question. And it’s a happy one. Adore Life, their “difficult” second album is, if anything, even better than Silence Yourself. Turns out there was enough of that energy and bloody-mindedness to maintain the intensity and widen the focus both at the same time. Savages still wear their (immaculate) influences on their sleeves — the uptight bouncy funk bass of The Pop Group or Gang Of Four, the endlessly-echoed scratched strings of Bauhaus, the angular guitar onslaught of Wire – and Jehnny Beth‘s still rocking that Siouxsie/Patti Smith vibe. But to dismiss, or even to praise, Savages as expert post-punk revivalists is to miss the point. Rock music has always been, at heart, an accretion of sound and influence, with everything carrying echoes of what went before. It’s what you do with those influences and sounds that counts, and Savages continue to combine them in new and fascinating ways. There’s even a hit of The Smiths on the title track (though when it comes to chronicling heartbreak, they’re more akin to a more “fuck you” Gloria Gaynor than to Moz, less sweetly melancholic and more bitterly defiant).
There’s more space to Adore Life than there was to Silence Yourself; it’s a less claustrophobic album, but still not a pipe and slippers comfortable one. Their increased range hasn’t spread their sound any thinner — each new aspect is given just as much effort and fury, resulting in something quite exhilarating.So now, having travelled this far sonically with them, the listener is left in the same position as back in 2013; wondering just how they’re going to top THIS. My advice? Quit worrying, and live in the moment. The music’s in safe hands. And there’s plenty of it here to be going on with.