Album of the Week: Adore Life by Savages - a relentless, rebellious joy at work

Thu, Jan 21, 2016, 17:40

   
 

Album:
Adore Life

Artist:
Savages

Label:
Matador

Genre:
Alternative

Savages’ debut album, Silence Yourself, was accompanied by a statement, a short essay that called on people to be less distracted. “If the world would shut up, even for a while, perhaps we would start hearing the distant rhythm of an angry young tune – and recompose ourselves.”

While Silence Yourself began that recomposing (and with it, an exploration of desire), Adore Life takes that concept to a more confrontational level, with singer Jehnny Beth sounding ever more alive and singular. Beth has previously spoken of the “duty” young people have to rebel, and Adore Life harnesses that call to arms.

There is a relentless, rebellious joy at work here. The Answer opens with heavy guitars, which resemble a kind of warning, with Beth’s voice and delivery summoning Nick Cave – a serious preacher testifying about the hard edges of love.

These hard edges are present on almost every composition; they are there in the discordant guitar melodies of Evil, the punky, stretched out sound of Sad Person, the heavy, mournful drone on Surrender, and the crashing, disjointed sounds on Mechanics.

Yet there are leavening foils: the lighter, playful guitars on Slowing Down the World, Beth’s soaring vocal on When in Love, and the spoken word influences on T.I.W.Y.G. There is also humour amid the seriousness – it’s a record that ponders having sex in a corridor as much as responding to protests against gay marriage. The common thread is conquering guilt.

Adore distils the essence of this record; partly inspired by the poet Minnie Bruce Pratt (who lost custody of her children when she left her marriage for another woman in 1975), it is also about refusing history in order to truly live. “I adore life,” Beth sings, mingling both defiance and sadness, reflecting that to “adore life” you must also acknowledge death.

This acknowledgement powerfully disrupts complacency, as the song builds to waves of post-rock beauty. Adore Life is a dramatic record, just like the clenched fist on the artwork: arresting, interesting, and immediate.