Savages - Adore Life

by Sean Hewson Rating:9 Release Date:2016-01-22

On first listen Savages’ second album, Adore Life, is something of a disappointment. The intensity of their debut, Silence Yourself, and their live show doesn’t appear to be there. However, continuing plays reveal that not only is it still there but there is also a new confidence and assurance, as well as a widening and warming-up of the sound.

On Adore Life, Savages get so much out of guitar, bass and drums. They sound confident. Songs often break down to one or two band members. On 'I Need Something', Ayse Hassan’s bass and Fay Milton’s drums drive the song, leaving Gemma Thompson to use her guitar solely for noise and atmospherics. On 'Mechanics' there are no drums at all.

They all weave in and out of each other, no one is the star and anyone can take the dominant role or carry the song. On 'Slowing Down', the bass and guitar take it in turns to play the more intricate part over simple drums. Sound-wise, there is much more fuzz and distortion on this album. Not just on the guitar but also, as on Surrender, on the bass. This new sound palette along with their understanding of dynamics is quite close to heavy psychedelic bands like Hey Colossus or even the modern incarnation of Swans, particularly on the intense, pounding climax to Adore.

Jehnny Beth on vocals also contributes to this, whether singing acapella on I Need Something or fronting the long, atmospheric, album closer, Mechanics; her voice is stronger than before. What hasn’t changed is her presence and intensity. In this and in her lyrics she sometimes reminds me of Henry Rollins. There’s the same mixture of power and compassion. She also uses simple language to deal with big issues – love, sex, death. She is, however, more philosophical than Rollins, often asking herself or the listener questions. At the root of it all is an understanding of the bad in life and also an unshakeable belief in the good – ‘I adore life…do you adore life?’

Adore Life feels like an important album. Savages believe in themselves, in what they are playing and in what they are saying. 

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