Although London quartet Savages is comprised of a fairly young membership, the band’s inspirations are rooted in the heyday of late ’70s’/early ’80s’ Post Punk avatars like Joy Division, The Teardrop Explodes, Gang of Four and Bauhaus. And with raw materials like that, you can’t possibly build a better musical structure in an incredibly short four-year span.
Savages guitarist Gemma Thompson offers up a sound that is schizophonic in all the best ways, simultaneously menacing and comforting, aggressive and atmospheric, linear and circuitous, blistering and soothing, rapturous and disquieting. Bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton form one of modern Rock’s most versatile and formidable rhythm sections, providing the appropriate engine to every Savages song regardless of a stylistic diversity that can be startling. And lead vocalist Jehnny Beth draws on the howling primal exultations of visceral Punk priestesses like Patti Smith and Siouxsie Sioux to expose the dark emotional heart of Savages’ lyrical message.
It’s also true that you can’t drive a car by looking in the back seat. That’s where Savages breaks from the pack of revivalists that attempt to reanimate their favorite musical eras without regard for their place in the 21st century, as there is nothing about Savages’ presentation that suggests a disdain for the here and now. The quartet bristles with a contemporary energy and perspective that elevates the aforementioned historical figures from mere influences to molecular building blocks that have been updated and incorporated into a new, stronger and more vibrant unit capable of exploding minds and Punk mythology with equal measures of vitriol and dark delight.
Savages’ two albums, 2013’s Silence Yourself and the just-released Adore Life, are both brilliantly evocative examples of the band’s angular and stratospheric power, the former with a blazing live-fast-die-lovely mindset, the latter with a slightly more mature and balanced outlook that gives the band’s louder moments of abrasive power an even greater potency. Savages have opened shows for Swans, and frontman Michael Gira has professed his admiration for them — if you haven’t yet, the Dark Angel’s endorsement may be one of the best reasons to sample the foursome’s melodic tumult.