Savages: Silence Yourself
Similar Artists: Siouxsie Sioux, The Fall, Bauhaus
It seems like every year the term “fully-formed” is appropriated to a new band, and this year it seems the title is being given to London’s “Savages”. It’s a term that’s previously been applied to groups such as Brooklyn’s “Grizzly Bear” and co-Londoners “The xx”, but what exactly does this title mean? With “Grizzly Bear” it was a reference to how each member was an equal and essential component to the band’s overall sound, and with “The xx” the term was a relation to the band’s sleek distinctiveness and style. However, with Savages, the term is more representative of the band’s revolving ethos rather than the music itself. It’s the kind of warning that makes you wary that the hype is just hype…
The much talked about manifesto that accompanies Silence Yourself is the band’s way of advocating for a better, purer world – which calls to mind The Knife’s concept heavy “Shaking the Habitual”. This isn’t quite a concept album, but the Buddhist leaning principles of the band’s declaration pop up constantly throughout the album. Many of the lyrical themes are based around freeing yourself from distractions and deepening your focus on more personal matters. No better is this described than on “No Face”, where Jenny Beth condemns those who lack intrapersonal skills.
While Savages do have a face, it certainly isn’t one they could call their own. For a band that isn’t doing anything new in terms of music, they are making some incredibly bold statements – statements that could have easily backfired if they didn’t prove to have the proper credentials. When it comes down to it, Savages are mere Post-Punk revivalists, but what makes them thrive within the flooded genre is their unshakeable authenticity.
So yes, Savages are the people they say they are – this is not a hoax. While it is tempting to relate this female four piece to Riot Grrrl greats like “Sleater-Kinney”, or more recent female lead groups like “Screaming Females”, Savages have much more in common with “Siouxsie and the Banshees” or even “The Fall”. Lead vocalist Jenny Beth has a French tinged delivery that is commanding in its force; often building in intensity every few measures until the song cuts out with her screaming at the top of her lungs. Some of the best moments arise when she is singing/yelling the same words ad-infitum as the guitars pummel out fastidious riffs and splatter us with noisy violence.
The album as a whole is pretty full throttle in the energy department, but the sequencing is flat out excellent so as not to overwhelm. For instance, there are slower, more gothic songs such as “Waiting for a Sign” that show off the artists’ songwriting strengths, and there is even an ambient interlude to break up side A/B. Each song provides a slightly different angle than the last to create an experience that feels well rounded to the talents of the musicians. The reason the band released so little in the way of ep’s/singles is likely because of their dedication to the album format, and their ambition shows off in strides here.
Manifesto or none, this is a great rock record. It may not be revolutionary enough to cause us to change our lifestyles the way the band wants it to, but it’s an affecting experience nonetheless. At its best, such as the rollicking opener “Shut Up”, the guitar, bass, vocals, and drums mesh to create a sound that is at once enraged, distraught, and beautiful – quite a rare feat for a simple punk band.
1.) Shut up*
2.) I Am Here
3.) City’s Full*
5.) Waiting For A Sign*
6.) Dead Nature
7.) She Will
8.) No Face*
9.) Hit Me
11.) Marshal Dear
* – Album Highlight