Album Review: Savages – Adore Life

It is rare that I will just sit down and write an album review after my first listen. I like to give my brain some breathing space, to come to terms with what I’ve heard and collect my feelings. Not so this time.The new album from London post-punk four-piece Savages has compelled me to start typing straight away. My fingers have a will of their own.
‘Adore Life’ is the follow up to 2013’s ‘Silence Yourself’ – an album that I was determined to love on first listen and didn’t. On paper it ticked all my boxes, but it took a few listens before it started to seep in. One listen of ‘Adore Life’ and I’m excited. I can feel the hairs tingling on the back of my neck and I have a sudden need to see them live that feels like a thirst.
So what’s changed with album number two? The illusion that they have relinquished control. Where ‘Silence Yourself’ was powerful and impressive but felt controlled to the point of being stifled, ‘Adore Life’ is Savages released.
The album opens with the big hit of first single ‘The Answer’ – a thunderous head-banger that has stoner tendencies – with Jehnny Beth’scommanding vocals propelling it forward. But this album isn’t just about heavy, pounding tracks. ‘Evil’ feels like it grooves along hand in hand with Fay Milton’s fizzing drums and Beth’s frosty vocals,while ‘Adore’ is intense and brooding but soars to its climax. ‘Surrender’ is a triumphant combination of light and dark – with a heavy, dirty drone that also echoes and sparkles until Beth’s yelping and wailing vocals melt into a wall of sound.
Lyrically they use repetition to great effect throughout. On ‘I Need Something New’ this addsto the relentless pound of Ayse Hassan’s bass and Gemma Thompson’s scratching and squalling guitar. On ‘When In Love’ the repeated statement of “I think I’m in love” has never sounded so threatening. This track also delivers the beautiful line “is it demon or angel holding us when in love?”
The comparison to Siouxsie and the Banshees has obviously been made many times already but when I hear the drama in Beth’s voice it makes me recall both Kate Bush and PJ Harvey, as she uses her voice as an instrument with the deftest touch. On final track ‘Mechanics’ she sounds like a high priestess overseeing the end of the world, ushered in by wavering guitars.
Although ‘Mechanics’ is the final song, ‘T.I.W.Y.G’ (“this is what you get when you mess with love”) is the fast and furious track that will no doubt have crowds punching the air when they tour this year.
You may have noticed that love is a theme and the band has written that the album is mostly “about love, every kind of love. Love is the answer.” This record was obviously a labour of love. Although the stifling control has gone, you can tell that Savages have thought every second through. I adore them for it.
‘Adore Life’ is due for release on 22 January via Matador.

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