Adore Life


Matador, 2016

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Adore Life, the title of which should come with both a question mark and exclamation point, is a loud, defiant, messy, in-your-face disc.

Savages pursues a post-punk sound that has earned them comparisons to Siouxsie and the Banshees and the like, but those ‘80s drones are infused with a nervy, punk energy and blunt lyrics. “The Answer” is a pure blast of adrenaline, all jumpy drums and a nonstop, menacing guitar under Jehnny Beth’s low-register, sinister yet sultry vocals. “If you don’t love me / Don’t love anybody” she threatens, and she means it.

“Evil” backs off the throttle a bit and adds a disco beat (all the rage these days, it seems), making it both danceable and unsettling undercurrent in Gemma Thompson’s guitars. It may seem a little like betrayal from the band’s debut, which was all hard-edged, but it shows Savages already reaching beyond their initial sound – and the disc is better for it, even if the lyrics here get repetitive toward the end (but not in a good way).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“Adore” slows things down to let the bass be the lead instrument, with guitar trills and sparse drums filling the space under Beth’s musings on guilt (“If only I’d hidden my lust / And starved a little bit more / If only I didn’t ask for more / Is it human to adore life? I adore life”). Unintentionally, I’m sure, the darkness and pacing of the song is reminiscent of the Stone Roses’ “I Wanna Be Adored,” although Beth’s vocal is far more outward-facing than the Roses’ insecure declaration of “I gotta be adored / You adore me.”

The post-punk approach kicks in on “Adore” and lasts through the rest of the album, losing the energy built up by “The Answer” and “Sad Person,” but “Slowing Down The World,” “When In Love” and “I Need Something New” all have a hypnotic quality. “Surrender” moves back into familiar territory, distorted fuzz anchoring the song underneath an icy, clinical sheen, an update on the more serious Bjork/Sugarcubes songs of the early ‘90s. It’s a fairly difficult song to get through, but it’s redeemed by the straight punk of “T.I.W.Y.G.,” with Beth snarling “This is what you get when you mess with love” in the choruses. A little dramatic lighting will totally sell this song on stage when it makes it to the Savages’ vaunted live sets (I use “vaunted” in the sense of “loud, dramatic, kind of confusing and sometimes uncomfortable in the great New York tradition”).

All four of those adjectives describe the closer “Mechanics,” which drops the drums for distorted guitar chords that wail and sustain for an eternity, the aural equivalent of a haunted house, before fading off into the ether. It’s sad but oddly gripping, like much of the album; “My love will stand the test of time,” Beth emotes, but the distortion makes it sound like she’s singing to a grave, not an actual person.

Adore Life is markedly different from Silence Yourself in musical ambition, sacrificing some of the debut’s raw energy for a more avant-garde approach in spots and the aforementioned dancefloor-ready “Evil,” and slowing down the tempo in general, but the same black-clad London band lurks underneath these 10 songs, ready to pummel you and adore you at the same time.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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