The rapturous cross of post-punk and noise edginess upon Savages 2013’s Silence Yourself marked one of the strongest records of that year. Leading the charge with lyrical deconstruction of gender politics, equality, and sexual fantasy, it was all bottled beautifully with slow-burners and a tightfisted approach that only ramped up the stakes. The once heavily muddled with reverberation and visceral lyricism band exhibited in their debut still contains the same emotional weight with their recent release, but for far different reasons. Savages’ second attempt, Adore Life, moves on the heels of their past work of doom and gloom sound akin toward the heydays of post-punk glory toward more diverse and charismatic attack. All guided by each member’s strengths, specifically Ayse Hassan’s bass work that shifts the complexities of each track and Jehnny Beth’s straightforward message that love overpowers the ills and meandering of the human soul. Though the proverbial ferocity in Adore Life is masked, it doesn’t sound like the contained rage accustomed for such a band. Adore Life throws different angles of attack through Beth’s jealousy or sustained eagerness to embrace the themes of this album, along with Hassan’s deep undercurrents, Gemma Thompson hyper discord of a guitar, and Fay Milton’s ever steady dose of post-punk drum aesthetic. Interestingly enough, there wasn’t anything like this evident on Silence Yourself of ever occurring, so a surprise may be in store for some.
The band seems to be moving the growth and ambition of their scope to a different tier. Despite its “naive” lyrical tone as Beth said to the LA Times, Adore Life signals a clearer statement than ever before for Savages, that in some unconditional way, love is great equalizer. Judging by the cover art is it more about brutality of power, but really that isn’t the aim. When “Evil” slides through beautifully with the back forth of Thompson and Hassan’s onslaught, Beth pleas and warns: “Don’t try to change. They’ll hurt you, they’ll break you,” signaling an openly aware method to the naivety.
The subject matter of love and independence can be an easy trap for the mundane but because of the band’s uncompromising shifts within each song it never hits a wall regaining a sense of sharpness every few minutes. They have moved from that sphere of grounded cynicism and political talk of their roots because of their willingness to give into this concept they represent without a propensity to overreach.
The progression of the album had raised flags for the group. It’s true, this album is precisely an adolescent view of spectrum of power, but they manage to truly embrace it – knowingly ignoring the problems, eventually so will you as it moves along. The lyricism by Beth never truly treads into cliché territory, which is why it doesn’t sound trite or forced. This isn’t the vengeful malice that they spewed in every corner of their musicianship on Silence Yourself, we see a band looking through the pursuit of self-worth and adoration.
“Adore” starts the second half of discovery; perfectly showing their newly formed desires. It takes on a ballad demeanor with its somber atmosphere and selfless introspection that belongs in the indie folk dominion. Ironically enough, as much of a departure as Adore Life sounds, it really isn’t in hindsight. While their influences had discussed these aspects in less clear circumstances, Savages are openly accepting it. There is a key difference of course: Savages have churned out a resonance of positivity, underneath a blanket of cynicism they once showcased heavily, and are not hesitant to push through with it. Musically it is less sonically abrasive as before and that is why the altruistic message never quite feels ham-fisted as you’d expect, instead it is refreshingly youthful – coursing through the veins of this album. Even if Beth falls flat on a few second half moments like “Surrender” and “T.I.W.Y.G.,” the rest of the group picks up the slack with a far more aggressive and convincing fashion than the first half. It balances itself wonderfully, never quite letting down its guard. This album is shades of grey for Savages, yet in a wholly different light.