Silence Yourself


Matador, 2013

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Savages' debut is not always an easy listen, but it's a fine modern punk record that is all jagged guitars, angular rhythms with muted basslines and strident but restrained vocals (usually) from Jehnny Beth.

These disaffected Brits have earned comparisons to Siouxsie And The Banshees, and rightfully so, but the disc is a modern update on that early underground alternative sound. As with many debuts, it takes Savages a while to truly find their own voice, and there aren't many songs here that are truly enduring. The band would refine the approach on their second disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Adore Life in 2016, with the result being one of the great rock albums of the year. It definitely establishes this as a debut.

The first three songs sort of blend together in an ear-bleeding haze, but things get better on "Strife," which turns up the bass, adds an impressive array of guitar effects and a midtempo beat, displaying a confidence that demands repeated listens. "Waiting For A Sign" is too slow, trying and failing to build on a dramatic My Bloody Valentine/Sonic Youth approach, but "She Will" is better, built on a creative drum pattern and a melancholy yet nervy vocal.

"No Face" is the energetic highlight and the second time this disc approaches greatness; it's probably a killer live, but it sounds great in the car anyway. "Hit Me" is the obligatory let's-play-super-fast-because-why-not punk song, which leads into the blunt, mediocre "Husbands" and the closing "Marshal Dear," which earns those Siouxsie comparisons (and perhaps some Pixies, too) in its loud/soft guitar dynamics, tinkling piano, cheerful lyrics about dream suicide and Beth's emotional vocal work.

Fans of '80s and '90s alternative underground rock will find some obvious highlights here, but fans of modern punk and indie should check this out, too. It's become clear that Savages has a lot to say and will say it well, and while this debut isn't consistently good, it's worth at least checking out.

Rating: B-

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