By Aatish Nath
There’s nothing as immediately catchy as Husbands the 2012 single that led Savages first album Silence Yourself, on Adore Life, their 2016 follow up. Instead, this loud, less abrasive album, from the London art-punk quartet, purports to be populated with love songs - you’ll probably return to them when feeling less than rosy - still manages to match its debut’s intensity, but with more philosophy and less propaganda.
So, where their debut, Silence Yourself, opened with a snarl and only got louder from there, this sophomore effort chooses to ponder life and love. The title, Adore Life, refers to a lyric from Adore, “is it human to adore life?”, with the rest of the album spending time deliberating that and more. The opening track, The Answer, opens with a discordant melody that sets the tone for the rest of the album, and lyrically, sets up the theme for the album - that love conquers, and humanises us all. How else to explain lines like, “If you don’t love me/You don’t love anybody”?
The impressive fretwork, which is what propelled the first album to the highest highs, is still what drives some of the best songs, but on Adore Life, lead singer Jehnny Beth takes the lead - sometimes singing, sometimes snarling, but always in command. On songs like the aforementioned Adore — a ballad, it seems like Beth is working through our feeling on love, using the repetition inherent in song structure to go for questioning to confirming her love for life, with its warts and all. The other slow-burner, is album closer Mechanics, which manages to be both abrasive and heart-wrenching at the same time, as Beth sings, “I want to know the tricks of love’
The introspective album is a breezier listen than the debut, with songs that are less free-wheeling and more structured, though not always as conventionally as you’d expect. I Need Something New quickly devolves into a visceral, incendiary experience, where influences like Swans (whom the band toured with) and Joy Division come to the fore. The biggest surprise on Adore Life is Surrender, a song that manages to sound metallic in an otherwise forcefully organic album.
For a band that has managed to translate its buzzy beginning into a successful debut, this second album seems to hint at how Savages will be able to retain their sound while continuing to grow. Like the xx, another British buzz band that have managed to carve out a niche for their unique sound, Savages have a sound that they’ve uniquely honed - but are experimenting with on this release.