“If you don’t love me//don’t love anybody” wails frontwoman Jehnny Beth in her earth-shattering vibrato on opener ‘The Answer’. This lyrical snippet presents the theme throughout Savages sophomore album ‘Adore Life’, the various faces of love. Their wonderful debut ‘Silence Yourself’ saw a hungry young band built around searing intensity and frenetic, reverb drenched instrumentation, promising much for the future. The question is: do they deliver on this promise? Yes… and no.
‘The Answer’ contains the same formula as Savages-of-old, with Gemma Thompson’s buzzsaw guitar jagged enough to tear off limbs, and an unrelenting aural onslaught from the unbending rhythm section of Ayse Hassan and Fay Milton. This blistering starter is followed by the quite frankly un-evil ‘Evil’. A slower, brooding song with a sinister groove, and while the lyrics are good as ever, ie “soak your actions in self-doubt”, the less abrasive approach means the song lacks passion in its delivery. The guitar throughout the album has a tendency to get lost at times throughout the album in its pursuit of angularity, not gluing with the rhythm section or vocals cohesively at times, never more-so than on the awkward ‘Evil’. Hassan’s powerful bass crushes bones on ‘Sad Person’ building to a half-hearted climax, whilst the jarring guitar partly ruins the potential of the song.
‘Adore’ is a slow burner in which the bass lurches down the street, swaying from side to side, yet the fierce roar fundamental to Savages brilliance is criminally absent until the crescendo, which is a shame with the fantastic love/hate slant on relationships within the lyrics, “If only I didn’t care so much//for the feel of your cold, cold touch”. It leaves the listener questioning why Savages must dabble in sluggish mediocrity at times. ‘Slowing down the world’ is the weakest cut on the album, seemingly lacking purpose as the song splutters along to a lacklustre chorus lacking in fluidity. A dying relationship is depicted in ‘I need something new’, “how do you get the excitement from such an empty space?” the unyielding vocals ponder, spurred on by Milton’s urgent drums until the bassline rears up savagely as Beth contemplates the ultimatum of whether to leave someone: “I need you//I need something new”. A spindly riff whirls into a frenzy to open ‘When in love’, as Milton’s cymbals storm in, while Beth grapples with the confused boundary between lust and love, “is it love?//or is it boredom?//that took me up//to your bedroom”.
‘Surrender’ is an ominous, slower tune that actually delivers. A computerised, metallic guitar rings crisply against the static wall of dissonance produced by the droning bassline, while the vocal melody grips the listener. This is followed by ‘T.I.W.Y.G’, a sonic cacophony of rage with a furious guitar riff Greg Ginn would be proud of, and a pulverising rhythm section, Beth’s shriek is spat out like wildfire. The song progresses to a brutal ending, where a colossal wave of chaos smashes over the listeners head. After the unforgiving double hit of the previous two tracks, ‘Mechanics’ is a poor song to finish the LP, yet another turgid song lacking orientation, preventing Savages from unlocking their potential.
Ultimately ‘Adore Life’ is a disappointment, not quite the howling kick-in-the-teeth of ‘Silence Yourself’, lacking the ferocity of its predecessor. Intensity is present, just in restrictive doses. The lyrical themes debate the monster of love fantastically and the rhythm section is still impervious, yet the lyrics are done a disservice by the lack of seething energy.