Pitchfork about this great album:
„When Savages emerged in 2012 with the excellent song „Husbands,” a lot of talk of the London band revolved around their frenetic live shows, and that they wanted you to turn your cell phones off at those shows. The second part, not an unfair request, invariably led to discussions of their manifestos and politics, which weren’t always easy to parse. Which is a positive.
Savages’ music was austere, their apparent influences easy to name (Siouxsie, Wire, Gang of Four, Joy Division), but what frontwoman Jehnny Beth was singing about was more complex. She might be standing up for polyamory or breaking down the patriarchy (or both). One song, „Hit Me,” which some people thought was about domestic abuse, was about rough consensual sex (as discussed by the porn star Belladonna). When you added these and other themes to their well-oiled live performances and specific visual presentation—the band in black, Beth dancing like Ian Curtis—it was difficult not to get excited about the group. But, as compelling a prospect as they were, I often found myself more interested in watching them live than listening to them at home on my stereo.
Silence Yourself is a strong record, but in hindsight, it also benefited from much of the above—the backstory, the buzz, the complementary material. So, in that sense, it’s especially interesting returning to the band two years later, after the initial adrenaline rush has passed. On the second collection, Adore Life, they’re still exciting, but the tone has shifted considerably. Not all of the songs work—a couple float by with power and grit but no real hook—but the best moments here are incredible.
Adore Life is a collection of love songs, but Beth refers to it as „a disease,” among other things, and told Pitchfork that when they recorded the album, they set out to „write the loudest songs ever.” It was produced by Beth’s boyfriend, Johnny Hostile, which brings another sort of real-life energy to the proceedings. And, outside of a couple ballads and torch songs, they’re still amped up—maybe even moreso than before. (Check out the sweaty live clip for the excellent anthem „The Answer,” which finds the audience losing their shit and their shirts.)
On Adore Life, Savages don’t always scale the heights of their signature anthem „Husbands,” but they find different highs. There’s the slow-release, PJ Harvey-esque ballad, „Adore,” the mid-tempo but somehow manic „Slowing Down the World” (which is reminiscent of Nick Cave), the rumbling death rock of „I Need Something New.” You can certainly hear Swans on these songs, too. Savages played some shows with Swans, and Gira has talked about how much he likes the band—the mutual camaraderie makes sense. The connection is there in the brutal repetitions: Note the combustible ending of „I Need Something New” or the feedback implosion at the start of „T.I.W.Y.G.” It’s also there in the subject matter: Michael Gira writes violent love songs, too (his classic „God Damn the Sun,” which involves addiction, threats of suicide, and general dissolution, is still one of the most romantic songs ever).
So, no, these are not „love” songs in the popular sense. Here, you’ll get a different side of flirting („I’m not gonna hurt you/ ‚Cause I’m flirting with you/ I’m not gonna hurt myself”), the messiness of love („This is what you get when you mess with love”), lust („Sleep with me/ And we’d still be friends/ Or I know/ I’ll go insane”), sexual fluidity („When I take a man/ Or a woman/ They’re both the same/ They’re both human”), sexual discovery („When I’m with you/ I want to do/ All the things that/ I’ve never done”), sexual power („When I take a man/ At my command/ My love will stand/ The test of time”), jealousy/threats („If you don’t love me/ You don’t love anybody”). But at its core, the album’s positive. On „Adore,” where she repeats „I adore life,” Beth sings, in part, about realizing the importance of life in the face of death, and deciding to just live—that kind of knowledge brings with it a kind of freedom and a sense of control.
In many ways, Adore Life feels more alive than Silence Yourself—in part because it feels more human, in part because it’s telling you to be as loud as possible. People often talk about how serious the band is, which seems like an underhanded way of telling them to lighten up. But it’s their intensity, and the way they look at something like love as a dark and powerful thing, that makes them interesting. Plus, nobody’s ever told Swans to smile.”