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Album review: Savages, Silence Yourself (Pop Noir/Matador)


Rumours of Savages’ credentials as purveyors of accurate post-punk have been circulating for the best part of a year, breeding fears that their album may turn out to be a mere period novelty.

Which makes Silence Yourself even more astonishing. Yes, its black heart is located in deepest, darkest 1981. Yes, the quartet, formed by Jehnny Beth (also one half of John & Jehn), has obvious influences. Yes, Beth’s singing style has strong elements of Patti, Polly and Siouxsie. But it’s lazy to make comparisons to exclusively female artists. The combination of jagged guitars and full-throttle bass lines is reminiscent of Bauhaus and Killing Joke.

What really matters though is that, unlike other imagination-starved revivalists, Silence Yourself has the kinetic power to escape the gravitational pull of its historical antecedents. Trauma, revenge, dread – the sort of big concepts that informed Brian’s paintings in Spaced – are all here, as well as twisted sexuality. On “Hit Me” Beth confesses: “Oh cherie, can you tell, I took a beating tonight/ And that was the best I ever had ....” Post-millennial indie boy-rock has taken a savage beating here. And it may prove the best it’s ever had.