When Savages broke through in 2013, the world was not as impressed as it should have been. Live, the snarling all-female quartet were armed to the teeth with slaughtering throbs that sounded like a release of rabid bats inside the ear canals. Yet that feverish racket never quite came to life on the London ensemble's good, but not great, debut Silence Yourself.
Album number two, Adore Life, is an attempt to right that wrong. An assembly of taut basslines and fuzzbox guitars, this is a more polished, more focused, more experienced upgrade on its predecessor. If Silence Yourself was Savages swallowing us whole, Adore Life is their late night regurgitation; a dry heave of 10 intense sonic squalls that come together as one glorious-sounding retch.
Initially, the band's penchant for pogoing post-punk remains intact with caustic opener "The Answer" and the relentless pummel of "Evil" that follows. But as the record unfolds, the songs turn into something much more complicated. "Sad Person" is a wallowing cry for help; "Slowing Down" rumbles along with PJ Harvey-like menace; album closer "Mechanics" is a pensive, claustrophobic blur of feedback led by frontwoman Jehnny Beth's echoing call.
Don't think for a moment Savages have lost their edge—they've just got better at delivering it. The blast of sound that shoots through "When in Love" and "T.I.W.Y.G" may derive from a tried and trusted blueprint, but the absorbing ruminations of "Adore" and "Surrender" demonstrate the band's maturity from shrill thrill-seekers to more refined bringers of atmosphere.
It's this nuance that makes Adore Life so impressive. Savages have always been able to lay claim as one of the U.K.'s most exhilarating live acts-now they've become one of its best bands. Creative, complex and wholly captivating, this is the album Savages were born to make. (www.savagesband.com)
Author rating: 8/10
Average reader rating: 7/10
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