Although Savages have always grasped the thrilling live-in-the-moment aspect of live shows – mimicking this atmosphere on their debut album Silence Yourself – they lacked a friendly report with audiences (with their cold, soul-destroying stares) which filtered through to their uninterested interview responses. Now it’s at the very heart of their methodology. During the construction stage of their songwriting for their second release Adore Life, Savages performed test dummies to crowds in North America, valuing their opinion with such respect that if fans didn’t feel energised or motivated by their compositions they re-wrote songs partially or completely. This could be seen as a slightly surprising round-table considering the stubborn self-made manifesto that the band so carefully created, but if their fans are on the same wavelength it can’t hurt.
The tragedy that occurred at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris in November 2015 infuriated rock musicians – due to its association with the genre – and add in the French connection with frontwoman Jehnny Beth and Savages strong will for preserving self-identity, they were always going to respond. How did they react? First, they covered Eagles of Death Metal‘s ‘I Love You All The Time’ at a gig in Paris in December whilst also speaking to the press about showing bravery for performing artists; their second move was to unleash an album that embraces “love” as a symbol for hope and applaud the dedication of gig-attendees. “Love is the answer,” Beth exclaims in single ‘The Answer’ sounding like the eureka solution to the conundrum of modern life whilst the promo couldn’t be deeper in the live environment taking on the visual perspective of Savages’ members.
Love is explored from different angles too. ‘Adore’ is a defiant anthem that continues Jehnny Beth’s impulsive fear of missing out on opportunities, stating that she’d prefer to hug life’s dramas rather than let it pass by in counterproductive grief. ‘I Need Something New’ also documents her philosophy on boredom via fantasies and showing strength through weakness. Although ‘The Answer’ is hopeful, it’s also about obsessional infatuation, likewise presented as addiction on ‘Sad Person’. T.I.W.Y.G displays the subject as merciless paranoia and is rather bitter. ‘Mechanics’ is about physical desire and perseveres with Beth’s fearlessness on the topic of ambiguous sex and pornography – a subject she’s been vocal about before.
The album transition is seamless due to Savages being just as equally aggressive with their speedy mosh-pit approach to noise post-punk, but there is also elements of grunge-rock breaks to balance (‘T.I.W.Y.G’, ‘The Answer’) and traditional sounding hard rock (‘Sad Person’). Their skill for drastic evocative distortion is still the most impressive, sounding like bombs destroying a war zone at the beginning of ‘Slowing Down The World’.
Savages may have a new manifesto but from the evidence of the clenched fist image on their album sleeve (rather than listing their beliefs), they will now let actions do the talking in their pursuit of a revolution.