Okay so this album, Silence Yourself, by Savages, has been out for almost 3 months already and it’s taken me that long to collect my thoughts in order to present a somewhat coherent review of this album. All right, here it goes: this album is totally badass!
That’s it; go check it out if you haven’t already.
What? I have to write more? Okay fine.
Savages are a rock quartet that formed in London in 2011. The band is an all-female group consisting of vocalist Jehnny Beth, guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayse Hassan, and drummer Fay Milton. Savages are often characterized as a post-punk band, and while normally I’d say that term describes a band’s sound as poorly as saying “indie rock,” it’s really an apt description in this case. The band takes cues from the original post-punk bands like The Cure, Wire, Gang of Four, and most notably Joy Division, and adds a bit of their own fury to make an album that is rooted in the past but very much a product of today.
The main reason why Silence Yourself is so badass is because of the group’s performance. Together the pieces work with watch-like precision, but the individual performances are also noteworthy. Right off the bat, I noticed Jehnny Beth’s impressive vocals, which are similar to those of Siouxsie Sioux but with more ferocity. The bass work on this album is also really great. Overall, I don’t find this album all that catchy, but if anything is going to get stuck in your head, it’s most likely going to be Ayse Hassan’s basslines. Thompson’s swirling guitar parts provide a tense atmosphere while Fay Milton’s powerful cymbal-heavy drumming accentuates the severity of the music.
Some highlights from the album include the song “She Will,” which is reminiscent of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” but is way less dance-y. One of my favorite songs on the record is the second track “I Am Here;” it shows off Jehnny Beth’s vocal range, with a cool wailing chorus, and it also has a really awesome freak-out section at the end. The closer, “Marshal Dear,” is interesting because it is the most mellow of the songs on the album, and it adds piano and bass clarinet parts to the mix.
Silence Yourself is not only the title of the album, but also part of the band’s mantra. The whole thing is spelled out in a manifesto on the album cover: according to them we’re living in a world of constant distraction that keeps us from genuinely understanding or communicating with ourselves and each other, and it can’t be fixed unless the whole world silences itself. This is further explored in the album, especially with songs like the opener, which is titled “Shut Up.” I’ve heard that Savages also adopts this idea in real life too with a strict no cellphone policy at all of their shows.
Within this philosophy, Savages also tackles other themes and subjects, some of which are rather bleak. The song “She Will” is about the expression of sexuality, “City’s Full” is about love, “No Face” is about identity, “Husbands,” is about marital discomfort, and “Marshal Dear” deals with death. The song “Hit Me,” is a little difficult for me to decipher. I can’t tell if it’s about domestic abuse, really kinky sex, both, or none of the above. But all of these songs seem to fit in their overarching theme.
It’s pretty clear that Silence Yourself is more artistic than it is poppy. Lyrically it is a bit challenging and sometimes a little heavy, but sonic-ly it is still exhilarating. I think it’s very possible that this album may not resonate with a lot of people, but I think it’s an important album and definitely worth at least one listen. I’m not sure what the next 5 months hold in terms of album releases, but I have a feeling this is making it on to my favorite albums of the year list.