wed 19/06/2024

CD: Savages - Adore Life | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Savages - Adore Life

CD: Savages - Adore Life

All-female quartet throw sex and love into a sonic maelstrom

Fisty shades of grey

All-female London quartet Savages’ debut album came raging out of the traps in 2013. It was a taut, driven dose of punk and post-punk bite, powerfully Banshee-howled by French frontwoman Jehnny Beth. Three years later, the follow-up swaps the constant tension and snap of its predecessor for something moodier and less immediate but with, if anything, an even deeper underlying fury, an emotional torment that’s marrow-deep rather than explosive.

Adore Life is something of a concept album. The theme is love as pain, love as a wounding uncontrollable force, love as brutal catharsis. The opening song, “The Answer” contains the line “Sleep with me, we’ll still be friends” but also a repeated insistance that "I'll go insane". By the album's end, the slow-squawling scree of “Mechanics” with its metaphors of burning, it seems the affair has blistered into physical, boundary-pushing obsession. There’s a certain “Venus in Furs” air to proceedings (“When I’m with you I want to do all the things I’ve never had done”) with the music backing up the idea. Beth tones down the Siouxsie-ness of her vocals to a more gothic Esben and the Witch-esque moroseness. It’s a bleak storm of an album, although hardly big on catchy tunes.

On the opening cuts Savages sound like a grungey femme-fronted PiL, but really come into their own on the sexually jaded quest for feeling of fifth song “I Need Something New” before peaking with “Surrender” and the caterwauling “T.I.W.Y.G” (which initialises part of its chorus line, “This is what you get when you mess with love”). These latter songs paint love almost as a physical addiction to drown in, suffering as release, accompanied by the requisite guitar noise.

At its best as it reaches its conclusion, perhaps like the love/sex around which it’s themed, Savages' second album needs the shimmering first half to set itself up, but it’s the caustic later tunes that stick in the memory. It is also these songs that give Adore Life a visceral originality.

Overleaf: watch the video for Savages' "The Answer"

The theme is love as pain, love as a wounding uncontrollable force, love as brutal catharsis


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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