“The world used to be silent / Now it has too many voices,” begins Savages’ 36-line cover manifesto. But pretentiousness is usually judged on context, and if this debut album proved to be shite, we’d probably look back on this all as a significant misstep.
Savages want for you, the listener, to shut up and listen. Quit gorging your eyes on multiple filths and immerse yourself in one singular experience. (They’ve said the same thing at live shows, too.) Consequently, track one is aptly titled ‘Shut Up’.
And it does its job tremendously. As the album begins, the listener is likely to experience a rare moment in life where being forcefully oppressed into silence is exactly the right situation to be in. And ‘Silence Yourself’ wouldn’t work without one’s full attention.
The thunderous post-punk soundscapes need your entire brain to lock in, or they flail around uselessly like eels in the dark. This is a sound honed from its makers’ explosive live performances, and retaining that energy on these tracks is a real coup for Savages.
Producers Rodaidh McDonald and Johnny Hostile (the latter from John And Jehn) have manipulated every sound until they comprise racing cogs in the overall boom. Jehnny Beth’s voice pierces through all of this: one-part Grace Slick, one-part Siouxsie, the rest a distillation of angst.
Savages’ brand of post-punk nods subtly to Bauhaus and Wire, but their translation is a wilder, impatient beast, squealing with immediacy and thrashing with insurgency.
Bela Lugosi wouldn’t get nine minutes on this album. He’d be dead after the first rattling bass note of ‘City’s Full’. There is a modern, angry masterpiece in here – just skip the manifesto.
Words: Joe Zadeh
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Listen to 'Silence Yourself' here.
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