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Savages – Silence Yourself
Label: Matador – OLE-1036-2, Pop Noire Records – OLE-1036-2
Format: CD, Vinyl, Download
Country: UK & Europe
Released: 07 May 2013
Style: New Wave, Post Punk
All Girl bands are an enigma in modern music as most music lovers could count the amount of famous all girl bands on their hands, but why is that so? I’m personally not sure, Women have been prominent as solo singer songwriters, Classical virtuosos, Jazz Diva’s, Pop Queens and such like for decades but to get more than one in a band is a rarity let alone four Women as is the case with Savages. So who are Savages? the band comprises of Ayse Hassan (Bass), Camille Berthomier, aka Jehnny Beth from French LowFi Indie duo John and Jehn (Vocals), Fay Milton (Drums) & Gemma Thompson (Guitar) and was the original idea to get together and form a band by Gemma and Camille, eventually forming in 2011 and playing live for the first time in 2012 supporting Indie band British Sea Power, so not a bad start to the bands life. After releasing a couple of EP’s in 2012 they arrive here at a full debut album on Jehnny Beth’s own label Pop Noire Records. Also Savages share the same band manager as Sigur Rós, John Best, though musically they are rather different than their acclaimed stablemates.
After a small film sample intro the first thing that hit me was Jehnny Beths vocals sounding eerily like a certain chartreuse from back in heyday of Post Punk/New Wave namely Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees. The opener “Shut Up” is classic post punk faire, driving bass, chunking guitar chords, big booming drums powering through from the back and fronted by Jehnny’s strong vocal performance. Track two “I am Here” though takes that post punk underpinning but adds in another strong flavour that is again reminiscent of another aggressive lady performer, PJ Harvey, but not the recent low key PJ but the older and younger ballsy PJ with drums and guitars pounding and screeching along at breakneck speed. The influences don’t stop there though on track three you’ve got a Patti Smith styled vocal performance and this is where I think Jehnny’s lyrics feel more akin to Patti’s they are more poetic than descriptive in presentation.
The album is littered with the feeling of homages to all the great Ladies of Rock ‘n’ Roll and is all underpinned by a ferocious band that push their instruments to the full, this is not a twee, lovey dovey, girly lament about lost love and puddy tats and thank God for that, do we need another one of those? This for me is how I like my Women to behave in music, raw, uncompromising and ballsy. My collection of Women musicians is small and is made up of all the those ladies that project a stronger more confident image than the norm, so its Siouxsie, Patti and PJ and now Savages.
Silence Yourself as the title suggests is an album that makes you listen rather than being a big cuddle from mummy, it is in your face, dark, crunching, screeching, pounding, projecting its message into your head like a hammer drill. The only real rest bite, before the final track, is probably the most melodic track on the album the Joy Division/New Order soundalikey “She Will” but even this track lolls you into a false sense of security as it develops and punches you into submission, with Jehnny repeatedly shouting “She Will, She Will, She Will” as the rest of the band crank up a maelstrom of electric charge that’ll leave you wanting for a cigarette after its fizz leaves your shaken body.
The production is as tight as the band but it is definitely mixed hot (CD) as when the girls crank up the noise you can hear it compressing but with this style of music thats not such a bad thing for once, Ayse’s Bass is strong and rhythmic, Fay’s drums punch through the fuzz of Gemma’s guitar thrashing and Jehnny’s vocals are as clear as can be expected in such a cacophony. So if you like your Women musicians going about their business in a fashion akin toa rally driver throwing themselves down a gravel track at a 100 miles an hour then Silence Yourself is an album that should pull you in, if you like your Women musicians to whisper sweet nothings and talk about love and puddy tats then I’d stay away. Savages are a band full of energy dragging the corpse of Post Punk/New Wave into the 21st century with a verve and panache that would have given the bands of the time a real run for their money.
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I knew nothing of this artist before this arrived for review, just a vague feeling I had listened to something by him on Spotify once.