Everything about Jehnny Beth and her cohorts is the total antithesis to 2013’s other hyped bands. Savages have a message. Savages take themselves seriously. Savages couldn’t give two shits if you’re having a nice time.
Whilst the ghostly cries and mutters that open ‘Shut Up’ set up an uncompromising tone, it’s ‘I Am Here’ that really lays down Savages’ law. Underpinned by seismic, distorted guitars and Ayse Hassan’s uneasy basslines, it creeps along before descending into crashing crescendos with Beth’s repeated, unhinged, falsetto cries. “I AM HERE,” she barks, as if her presence is in itself a challenge.
Sure, there are certain sonic traits that repeatedly recur: hypnotic, angular basslines. Crashing, Banshees-like and distortion-laden guitars. Strained, dead-eyed vocals. A complete lack of compromise anywhere. Yet, whilst that means that it takes a few listens for the intricacies to fully come through (alongside stormy brooder ‘Strife’, early single ‘Husbands’ is still the most sonically independent offering here), it fundamentally endows the record with a clarity of vision that justifies all the hyperbole.
In these times of austerity, Savages’ monochrome angst is 2013’s much-needed reality check.