By: Luke Ottenhof –
With the release of their debut album, Silence Yourself, Savages have proven that instead of recycling the signature post-punk sound, they have crafted an aesthetic all their own.
The U.K. post-punk four-piece have only existed for two years, but in that short time singer Jehnny Beth, guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse Hassan, and drummer Fay Milton have grabbed the world’s attention and shoved it into a frothing pool of fuzz, pounding drums, and bone-rattling force.
The band strikes a likeable mash between White Stripes-esque garage jams and heavy, raw drones that sound just like Toronto’s METZ. In no way are they purely noise-making animals, though. The statements to be found chiseled into the album are equally as valuable as the way they’re presented.
Focusing on an eclectic mix of themes including, sexuality, violence, gender roles and empathy for the human condition, Beth and company guides you through these prevalent contemporary issues and addresses them abstractly.
Opener “Shut Up” is a throbbing bassline with thick distortion and Beth’s vocals crammed into four minutes of breakneck, desperate dinginess. It could be Geddy Lee’s noise-punk side project; Beth’s howls and shrill highs sound just like the Rush frontman’s vocals on “Limelight”.
The album rips along until Beth’s wailing vocals dissipate and the album flows into “Waiting For A Sign”, trading off the throttling speeds for a slow-dance tune, albeit one that would be suitable for a back-alley, track-marked romance. The follower, “Dead Nature”, is just what it sounds like; two minutes of permeating, eerie quiet, complete with hollow knocks and percussive ambience.
The girls trade punches with technology and modernity throughout, and do little worse than could be done. If a little obvious, it’s effective, and bears the same genuine feel and grime that would make Lee Ving proud. And a true strength for Savages is that they pull it off without making it inaccessible, pretentious bilge. It’s tidily mixed, and the brutality and rawness is held in check with softer levels and clean sound.
So often can post-punk scare off listeners with intentionally vicious, irreverent sounds, and while it can be a fun aesthetic, it isn’t long-lasting. Savages have created something that is. Silence Yourself is a refreshing take on the genre, and a solid contribution; Savages have succeeded in creating a rare mold of old and new, harsh and soft, real and ethereal, all while making it pleasant on the ears.
Essential Tracks: “Shut Up,” “She Will,” and City’s Full.”