Wednesday 15 May 2013

Savages - Silence Yourself

Right from the off, it’s clear that Savages more than live up to their name.  The all-female British post-punk band have already impressed at numerous festivals over the last year and they continue to do so on ‘Silence Yourself’, their debut LP.  This is the most raw, urgent and visceral record to be released so far this year, filled with guitars that roar with otherworldly power, angular vocal melodies and crashing drums, all underpinned by heavy, richly thrumming bass guitar.  Fierce, primal and almost violent, it’s easy to become swept up by the sheer force of their music.

Over the course of ‘Silence Yourself’ there’s barely any let-up.  It’s not until Waiting For A Sign that the pace drops, followed by experimental instrumental Dead Nature that’s as ominous as it is threatening.  The morbid Marshal Dear closes the album, including (of all things) a bass clarinet solo that adds a sense of Parisian artistry perhaps stemming from French frontwoman Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier).  These tracks aside, the album feels a little one-dimensional and lacks dynamic range, but as it hurtles towards its end you’ll barely notice.  

What’s most important, however, is what the band stand for: female empowerment.  The title is an ironic one, immediately negated by the opening track: “did you tell me to shut up?” questions Beth with a vengeance.  Then there’s the emphatic repetition of “she will” on She Will marking a forceful, irresistible statement.  City’s Full balks at “sissy pretty love”, its middle eight offering a rare tender moment with “I love the stretch marks on your thighs, I love the wrinkles around your eyes”.  Savages might not conform to typical notions of sexy (which is somewhat the point), but that’s not to say they shy away from sexuality.  “I took a beating tonight and that was the best I ever had”, sings Beth on Hit Me, before repeating “I’m ready, I’m ready” in submissive ecstacy, whilst her screeching of “husbands, husbands” on Husbands ambiguously straddles both fury and sexual gratification.  Beth’s vocal has a wildness to it, even in the softer, more lyrical moments, that suggests a sense of freedom based on primal urges.

As a foil to most vapid, overtly-sexualised female pop seen in the charts, Savages triumph.  The band have a point to prove and they prove it forcefully.  In that respect, they join the likes of PJ Harvey in the pantheon of empowered British female artists.


Gizzle's Choice:
* Shut Up
* City's Full
* Husbands

Listen: 'Silence Yourself' is available now.