Over the last year, everything about Savages seems to have been generating excitement; their striking post-punk sound, legendary live performances and circulating rumours that they’re physically incapable of smiling. Highly anticipated, their debut album Silence Yourself has now been released.
They’ve been compared most frequently to bands such as Joy Division and Siouxsie and the Banshees. However if we’re really trying to grasp the sound of Savages’ debut it would seem appropriately pinned somewhere between the post-punk of bands like The Fall and the proto-punk of Patti Smith…so surely, by simple maths, that equals a normal ‘punk’ sound? Not entirely.
Much like The Fall’s This Nation’s Saving Grace, resonance is the firm basis of this record; the strong reverberating sounds of the bass-guitar and drums are essential in every track. The second essential part is Jehn’s shrieking, frantic, quite honestly savage vocals; much like Patti Smith’s on Horses.
Gemma’s distorted guitar work comes in around these elements, amplifying every song. Each time the guitar moves away, we’re left with just the bass and Jehn’s voice echoing, and for a couple of seconds you can feel the goosebumps forming on your arms, before the guitar returns and we’re back in chaos. The album’s essentially like trying to stay above water in a stormy sea; half the time you dip below the surface and experience the eeriness of the underwater atmosphere, then your head’s back up again and in the crashing waves.
Even slightly calmer songs such as ‘Strife’ carry this same turbulent mood. Gemma’s guitar plays long screeching notes, making you feel slightly on edge, then just as you think you’ve got a stable footing in the song, it drops away and we’re left with Jehn’s echoing voice, sounding like she’s preaching to us in the form of song.
This inability to let you settle is what makes Silence Yourself so good; because once you’ve got comfortable in an album it becomes pretty boring listening. ‘Marshal Dear’, the album’s final track, ends on a saxophone solo, like a bizarre ending to a David Lynch film, you’re left thinking; what the hell just happened?
…Ian is listening to The Breeders – Fortunately Gone…