Monday, 6 May 2013

Album review: Savages - Silence Yourself

They may be the latest British buzz band, but Savages sure don't sound like one. Rather than mining their home country's rich rock heritage, the current darlings of the U.K.'s indie press pull their energy from the seething, sex-charged sonics of acts like The Birthday Party and Suicide. Judging by the hype that's surrounded them since the release of their inaugural single in 2012, that approach is working.

Over the last year, the London quartet has taken to the road to tighten the towering gothic structures and rabid post-punk squalls that coined all the commotion. Their debut LP Silence Yourself is the fruits of this labour, combining the disarming thrum of their live appearances with a studio-born subtlety that showcases an ear for nuance.

 But this is no easy listen. Singer Jehnny Beth's moribund tones are led by a roar of serrated guitars and the kind of barbarous percussion that never seems to let up. From the opening notes of "Shut Up" the onslaught is relentless: "Husbands" pulverizes, "City's Full" howls, and "No Face" screeches. This is anarchic, itching punk at its most primal, most belligerent.

 In their pre-release press spiel, the band are at pains to state that these 11 tracks are best heard loud—in fact, it's the only way to hear them. The depth and ferocity of sound found on "I Am Here" needs decibels to deliver its full aural assault. Background filler these songs are not: each cut (and they all feel like a cut) is intended to rattle bones from the floor up.

 Perhaps the one chink in Silence Yourself's armor is the darkly veiled drone that turns "Waiting For a Sign" into a mechanical slog. But this is a minor stutter on a record that conjures up something truly unique. That something? A buzz band out-buzzing the buzz.

First published here for Under the Radar

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