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Savages + Duke Garwood

Critics' pick
Photograph: Courtesy Press Here Publicity
Savages

Last year’s blockbuster U.K. import conquered the States in part via time-tested flattery: Like Zeppelin, Cream and other predecessors, Mumford & Sons pitched themselves as Brits obsessed with American roots music. Savages, on the other hand, owe their transatlantic success to a particularly London-centric brand of hipness. The xx—with whom Savages share an androgynous look and a general aura of romantic gloom—has won a legion of U.S. fans thanks to a similar aesthetic, but while that group favors hushed seduction, this all-female quartet traffics in grab-you-by-the-throat urgency. “Husbands,” which surfaced last year on Savages’ debut seven-inch, contrasts a tense bass/drums throb with a melodic-noise eruption courtesy guitarist Gemma Thompson. Jehnny Beth’s incantatory chant-snarl completes this three-minute neopostpunk master class, instantly reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees and other arty late-’70s touchstones yet, much like the Mumfords, far too assured to write off as a mere retread.

The toast of CMJ 2012, Savages were that rare band that surfed into NYC on a tidal wave of hype, then out on an even more massive one. They return this week for their first proper local headlining dates, in between stops at SXSW and Coachella. The band has yet to issue a proper full-length—the live 12-inch I Am Here is the heftiest Savages dispatch to date—but it shouldn’t feel any need to rush that step. None among Savages’ stateside demographic would dispute that the quartet has, in both senses, arrived.—Hank Shteamer

Follow Hank Shteamer on Twitter: @DarkForcesSwing

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