Saturday, May 14, 2016

Silence Yourself (2013)

I found out about the latest update on Siouxsie & the Banshees via the rock critic Everett True, who was quite evidently smitten with them (and/or working PR for them) when this came out a few years ago. They've put out another album since, Adore Life, but so far I like this debut better, and I like it quite a bit. Among other things, these four women are perfectly upfront about their art-damaged instincts, starting with dropping the definite article in their name. They are Savages, not the Savages or even thee Savages. You almost feel by osmosis before you know by looking it up in Wikipedia that they are French, at least in part. That part is the singer, Jehnny Beth. How important is she? The rest are Londoners and all song credits go to the band as a whole, so hard to tell. What's easier to make out is the churning, melodic attack, decked out with dramatic production dynamics and a reasonably ferocious rock band piling it on from the rear. It grabs from first listen, and it's no joke. The main appeal for me is the electric charge of the music itself, which is undeniable. I admit I'm not paying much attention to the lyrics and themes, but they're obviously there, with the album title itself and song titles such as "Shut Up," "Hit Me," and "Husbands." It's dark and angry music but it's pulsing with life. The best part for me is the drama. I like how on my favorite song, "Strife" (yes, "Strife"), Gemma Thompson's moody electric guitar is often in charge, tracked by bottoms suddenly dropping and swelling and big artful squeals of feedback. In fact, feedback is one of the things they do best on every song here. Jehnny Beth appears more or less to be the face of Savages, as the lyricist, Frenchman, and chief label honcho, but don't miss how well guitarist Gemma Thompson is working to effect here. She's got a big set of riffs and hooks which are often the centerpieces of these songs. And the rhythm section is solid. It's a team effort generally, as signaled by the songwriting credits, and it's pretty much one of the biggest blasts I've had listening to an album for a while.

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