People have been talking about the epic nature of Savages‘ live shows since before they released their triumphant, critically acclaimed debut album Silence Yourself and when listening to them on record it’s clear why. Upon hearing the first notes of Adore Life all I wanted was to be transported to front of stage at one of their performances. It’s rock music at its best.
Savages’ follow up to their critically acclaimed debut is every bit as ferocious as its predecessor. They will claw at your very soul, but is it all too much?
While the hype surrounding their entry onto the rock scene was founded upon their vicious political views (they famously banned phones at their shows), this album, while perhaps louder, is mostly a collection of love songs. Love songs with a twist mind you, nothing soppy here. There are cautionary tales mixed with themes of boredom, flirtation, lust, violence, and pain draped throughout.
Listening to Savages is like having a ferocious lover, they will claw you all the way down your back and it will hurt, but you’ll enjoy it just as much as it pains you (or maybe you’re not into that). However, it would be wrong to assume Savages are in any way playful. No, they take their music very seriously and you can hear it in every note of front woman Jehnny Beth’s voice, in every bass line and cymbal crash. It’s this relentless passion towards their art and the attention to detail with their song composition that stands them above other rock bands. So anyone who wants them to lighten up, can probably fuck off.
Frenzied is probably a good way to describe their sound at times but perhaps not the band themselves; there’s no lack of composure and Beth manages to convey control even when she’s yelling at the top of her voice. New anthem The Answer opens the album with the type of energy you’d expect and crave, tumbling you over and over as you’re pummeled with the message: love is ‘the answer’.
Every band needs some rise and fall, even Savages despite the drug-like addiction to their power. Virtual title track Adore brings us down almost to rock-ballad territory. It maintains a supremely moody vibe as Beth sings of regrets and failings yet continuing to adore life, even with the mess it inevitably brings. Usually sharp and acidic, this song takes the edge off Savages and adds some tenderness to Beth’s delivery before eventually building up to a brilliant crescendo. It’s a sign that Savages’ best work might even still be ahead of them, in which case we’re all in for a real treat.
The middle of the album holds its longest tracks and, sometimes there is a feeling of being caught somewhere in between the delicious viciousness and the calmer croons. It’s a middle ground that doesn’t quite work.
When In Love soon restores the former glory, rough-riding us again in what is probably the most fun track on the album, with a delightful riff as the highlight.
Through Surrender and T.I.W.Y.G the album takes on that frantic tone again as we speed towards the finish line and literally surrender to the album, enjoying it without thinking too much about it. “This is what you get when you mess with love” warns Beth, but we don’t want to listen, we just want to hear her say it. We pull up abruptly though with Mechanics, which broods and crawls as Beth lets her voice shine again. An interesting track to end on however since it doesn’t represent the album as a whole in terms of sound but for narrative purposes it sounds like Beth reached catharsis with her meditation on love.
With Adore Life, Savages certainly manage to climb the same high bar they set with their debut. The new LP holds all the strength of Silence Yourself with a slightly more relaxed approach from vocalist Jehnny Beth. It won’t disappoint.