Album Reviews

Savages – Silence Yourself

(Matador/Pop Noire) UK release date: 6 May 2013

Savages - Silence Yourself One of the best ways to end an argument is to simply agree with the point the person opposite is making. You’ll find it causes all reasoning and deduction to go out the window and brings things to a clattering halt. Think differently? Well, of course you’re totally correct.

The criticism often levelled at Savages is that they aren’t doing anything new. The first words of the ‘mission statement’ that they released earlier this year were: “SAVAGES is not trying to give you something you didn’t have already.” A taciturn admission that, from the perspective of pure novelty, this album may lie somewhere between product placement at a Beyoncé concert and an Emile Sandé guest appearance?

It’s hard to deny that Silence Yourself does things which quite possibly have been done before. Julian Cope certainly might have something to say about the relative proximity of No Face to Reward by The Teardrop Explodes. But, particularly given that no one seems to be disagreeing, if accusations of being a bit derivative are the worst that you can level at it, then really Savages must be doing a lot right.

An awful lot. Silence Yourself is a great record. Powerful, determined and precise. And from the moment Ayse Hassan’s bass stampedes in during the opening Shut Up, it captures the knife-edged intensity, the purposefulness and the sheer unbridled thrill of their live shows.

The elastic bounce and squalling grind of City’s Full. The galloping Husbands, reminiscent of some lost Joe Meek production; as if someone took Screaming Lord Sutch’s Jack The Ripper and left it to go insane in an attic room for 40 years. The way She Will feels as if Jehnny Beth is flinging her self against the speakers with ever increasing ferocity. They’re songs of violent vibrancy.

The white knuckle moments are to be expected, given the swaths they’ve carved during their gigs. So when Silence Yourself loosens its grip it is perhaps more impressive. There’s an almost Led Zeppelin bent to the dramatic guitar sweeps of Strife, while Waiting For A Sign offers a more thoughtful tone, ringing out in gloomy fashion that suggests the sign is not one offering free hugs, and both indicate there is plenty more to Savages than teeth-bared attack.

In the end though, the thing which makes Silence Yourself really stand out is the harmony between the members. From the squalling, intricate riffs which Gemma Thompson crafts, by turns surfy, industrial and punky, to the battles which rage between Hassan and drummer Fay Milton, both instruments fighting for prominence in the tight, regimented spaces of the songs, to the maniacal edge of Jehnny Beth’s clipped yelps and cries, the balance is incredible.

There is another way of ending an argument: make the conclusion seem somewhat redundant. Silence Yourself may not invent a genre. Silence Yourself may not give you something you didn’t have already. But it is so stark, so bold and delivered with such utter belief that you wonder why anyone would possibly care.

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Savages – Silence Yourself