What do you do after coming right out of the gate with a fully-formed, ass-kickingly great debut album? It’s a question that’s plagued bands for decades, and though the obvious answer might be to “do something different”, I’d say that “more of the same” is often just as good of an option for album number 2. It’s the reason sophomore releases like R.E.M.’s Reckoning or Led Zeppelin’s second album are my favorites in those band’s catalogues — because it does the same thing as the first album, but in a way that’s even stronger and more confident. This is pretty much the approach Savages have taken, after their 2013 debut established a sound that was about as dark and heavy as anything in indie rock, while their follow-up Adore Life sees them going even darker and heavier.
How dark and heavy you ask? Well, I’d say that even though the band’s sound is still very much steeped in late ’70s/early ’80s post-punk, bangers like “The Answer” or “T.I.W.Y.G.” almost have a slight hint of metal in their DNA. Granted, no self-respecting metalhead would ever call any of these songs metal, and if this album honestly did sound like metal, I probably wouldn’t like it, since you know, metal is mostly stupid. And yet, despite this album’s brooding intensity, you get a nice juxtaposition of tones, as singer Jenny Beth’s lyrics are almost childishly optimistic, considering the songs I just mentioned revolve around lines like “Love is the answer” or “This is what you get when you mess with love”.
And while Adore Life does often see Savages taking an even more muscular and bracing approach to what they were doing on their debut, there are a few shining examples of their softer side. The album’s title track in particular has a more floating, ethereal feel to it, and yet at the same time manages to have that same rattling intensity to it that this band seems to attack every song with. And because of that, this is just a great album to rock out to. Which makes it even more apparent that I need a find a way of seeing this band live, since I can’t imagine them being anything less than exhilarating to watch in person. Unfortunately, the only Seattle stop on their upcoming tour will be at Sasquatch (which I don’t plan on attending, and also happens to be nowhere near Seattle). Ah well, I’ll find a way.
Favorite Tracks: “Adore”, “Surrender”, “T.I.W.Y.G.”