‘Perhaps, having deconstructed everything, we should be thinking about putting everything back together.’ That’s from the manifesto printed on the cover of Savages’ debut album – a comment on making serious music in a culture steeped in irony. Because these four London women, who dress in black and ban audiences from taking pictures on their phones, are deadly serious.
They’ve been called humourless and derivative, but ‘Silence Yourself’ effortlessly answers both charges. It’s a furious and stunning debut, which – despite the glorious languor and creepy ambience of ‘Waiting for a Sign’ and ‘Dead Nature’ – just doesn’t let up. There’s no need to win the listener over; who wants cheap tricks when the music’s this good?
As for ‘derivative’: the scratchy guitars and thick, stalking basslines do recall classic post-punk and no wave groups, and singer Jehnny Beth gets ‘Siouxsie Sioux’ and even ‘Ian Curtis’ a lot. But if every band treated their influences this well, ‘derivative’ would lose its sting. ‘Silence Yourself’ doesn’t feel overshadowed by Savages’ record collections. The sounds may be old, but they’ve been reassembled into a record that’s deep and primal enough to sound shockingly new.
Watch Savages' 'Shut Up' video