Savages second album, Adore Life, continues the group’s intensely thrilling brand of post punk, following on from their debut, Silence Yourself, back in 2013. Their new record is an immensely powerful affair; a work that will please earlier fans while gaining new ones by pulling Adore Life together and drawing a range of influences that go beyond the Joy Division/ Banshees comparisons they first received.
After the riotous opener ‘The Answer’, it becomes apparent that Savages are a band truly firing on all cylinders. In Gemma Thompson, Savages have the makings of a truly great “anti” guitar hero, in the same vein as Pixies’ Joey Santiago or William Reid of The Jesus And Mary Chain. Her playing is an assault, from the spiderwalking riff of ‘Evil’ to the dreaming white noise that ends the album’s closing track, ‘Mechanics’. It’s startling to think that one woman and a guitar could create a sound akin to a jet fighter attack.
Backing Thompson up is a sublime rhythm section who, on ‘T.I.W.Y.G’, propel the track with a level of energy and fierocity that borders on the deranged. The sonic equivalent of a stray firework, or a pack of wild dogs. However it’s vocalist Jehnny Beth that provides the largest leap from their debut. Beth’s is a remarkable voice with a sense of urgency and personality that many young bands lack. The staccato jerkiness on ‘Evil’ makes way to a howl that blends and matches Thompson’s guitar for violence and desperation on album highlight ‘Slowing Down The World’.
Crucially, Beth also provides the key to the album on ‘Adore’: Providing a moment of respite and tenderness on what can be at times a wholly confrontational, suffocating thunderstorm of an album, she sings about hiding “every tear [she] cried”. Listeners are hit with an emotional resonance which equals and gives more scope to the albums more straightforward thrills. At a relatively slim ten songs and 39 minutes, Adore Life is everything fans could ask for in a new Savages album, with the new found emotional depth reaching out for a larger audience. Fans of Pixies, Joy Division or Sleater Kinney’s clattering masterpiece The Woods are certain to enjoy it, as will anyone looking for some of the most primal and vital rock music they’re likely to hear this year.
Adore Life is out now via Matador.