Savages - Silence Yourself - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Savages - Silence Yourself

by Alexis Somerville Rating:9 Release Date:2013-05-06

Silence Yourself wastes no time getting to the point. Opener 'Shut Up' begins with an excerpt from a John Cassavetes film before the music kicks in, rocks hard and transports you to a smoky club with black walls and sweat. Lots of sweat. The all-girl London four-piece formed in 2011, chose a name inspired by books such as Lord of the Flies then proceeded to live up to it with a cocktail of dark, violent, libidinous post-punk. This is their debut album.

There are echoes here of punk legends The Slits, Siouxsie & the Banshees and X-Ray Spex. There is also a clear post-punk and 80s goth influence, with nods to Joy Division, early Cure and The Birthday Party. 'City's Full' evinces the toughness and energy of Bauhaus and The Stooges while delivering a message about body image: "There's so many skinny, pretty girls around... Why do you treat yourself so bad?/ I love the stretch marks on your thighs/ I love the wrinkles around your eyes."

Some criticism has been levelled at Savages for their unashamed devotion to their influences, but for all the classic reference points, they have their own distinctive sound. French-born singer Jehnny Beth is a captivating, talented frontwoman. Gemma Thompson is an accomplished guitarist, working perfectly in tandem with Beth's vocals. Ayse Hassan on bass and Fay Milton on drums form a tight, mesmerising rhythm section. The band's identity is at once meaningful, radical and amazingly focused given the short length of their career thus far.

This may be their debut, but Savages clearly know how to construct an album. There is a common thread throughout; nothing sounds incongruous and everything is in its place. But Silence Yourself doesn't rest on its laurels - there is still variety within the coherence. Just when you think you've heard everything the band has to offer, they throw something faster at you, or something dreamier, or something as delightfully shouty and manically controlled as 'Husbands'. Closing track 'Marshal Dear' is a real showcase of Beth's soulful, downbeat vocals and the band's softer side, ending with some sultry saxophone.

Further highlights include 'Strife', where Thompson's space-rock guitar is neatly overlaid by Beth's powerful, prowling vocals. 'Hit Me' chugs along with intense punk energy and riot grrrl attitude. The melancholy 'Waiting for a Sign' begins with Beth proclaiming: "You don't like their manners/ You don't like their face/ You turn yourself away..." before building up to an emotional, post-apocalyptic chorus which would surely stab you majestically in the heart were you to witness it performed live.

Those of us born in the 80s and beyond may feel we've missed out comparatively when it comes to the experience of discovering exciting new music. Who cares if what Savages are doing isn't totally new? If newness is all we're looking for then there is much worse music out there fulfilling that quota (or at least trying to). In Silence Yourself, Savages have provided us with an excellent post-punk album alongside the knowledge that this band is still around, in its prime, playing live and hopefully continuing to release records in the future.

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