Duncan, San Francisco 09/01/2013
…their major tropes are undeniably post-punk, but they also call to mind PJ Harvey, Pixies, early Jane’s Addiction — bands which seemed to spring fully formed from the heads of their members and were immediately impossible to ignore… These gals are the most exciting new band I’ve heard or seen in ages.
Savages’ primal, post-punk-inspired sound demands your full attention. From the get-go, Silence Yourself is no warm-hearted embrace of a record — its first song is called “Shut Up,” and then there’s that title. But theirs isn’t an empty confrontation; the British band delivers in spades with songs that dive into your bloodstream and live in you before you know it. “I Am Here” declares itself as a bearing for what’s to come, as if frontwoman Jehnny Beth is grabbing your hand and coaxing you toward your own future. “I am here, no more fear, no more dark shadows, let it come,” she sings chillingly in a mid-range trill somewhere between Siouxsie, Jeff Buckley and Rush’s Geddy Lee. Her band works into a froth that leads to an inevitable conclusion of Ayse Hassan’s pulverizing bass and Fay Milton’s bashing drums while Beth and guitarist Gemma Thompson trade ghostly exchanges above. Silence Yourself isn’t entirely full-throttle though; as any good post-punk devotee knows, the trick is pairing those moments with eerie, atmospheric tunes, and that’s exactly what Savages do, allowing for songs like “Waiting for a Sign,” which summons a combination of apocalyptic sound from Thompson’s guitar and Beth’s banshee wail, while Hassan and Milton keep things anchored in a glacial groove. “Dead Nature” follows, full of empty, echoing dread; these two songs allow the record to reach a midpoint of hollowed-out intensity before ratcheting back up the energy, on songs like “She Will,” which starts as the friendliest and danciest song on the record, until they make that chorus into an uncompromising sexual tirade. “Hit Me” and “Husbands” round out the album by allowing the band to play with full abandon. In the latter, Beth takes the confines of marriage and makes them into a virtual prison, crying “husbands” in frightening, alien repetition. The album’s piano-led, cabaret-esque closer, “Marshall Dear,” speaks great promise of Savages, as Beth goes lower in register and more operatic and the band tempers its great noise-making capabilities. It’s a riveting debut record from start to finish. We knew it was gonna be good judging by the advance press and last year’s I Am Here live EP, but Silence Yourself still smashes expectations and leaves you sitting in smoke, begging for more.