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The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger: Acoustic Sessions
It was just a few months ago that the band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger was created by Sean Lennon and his model-musician girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl. The legendary music bloodline in one half of this up-and-coming indie folk duo had audiences filled with anticipation as to what The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger had waiting for us.
The release of their nine-track EP, Acoustic Sessions in late 2010 was met with a heavy amount of blasé commentary and questions as to where the band’s sound was going or where they’ve come from, for that matter. From Lennon’s unreachable brooding to Kemp’s sole purpose as his vintage bubblegum tagalong, the futility of the band’s success seems unavoidable. They might be cute; but for Lennon to create his own musical space, it will be quite a difficult task. Nonetheless, he has his own thing going on and that’s a fact.
Invoking a delicious amount of beautiful imagery, Acoustic Sessions is a lyrically full, warm and peaceful album. The opening track ‘Lavender Road’ lends a hand to Lennon’s ability to make his words dance. The simple folk melody and Kemp’s vocals bring a lighter balance where Lennon treads with a symbolic grounding throughout the entire album. Spattering about through bouts of mellow and gloomy dissent, the album continues with a heavy amount of pretension; especially when it comes to the subject matter. ‘Dark Matter’ rears its head at existence and entropy. The undercurrents are a bit too much as Kemp and Lennon trail along in a quiet rhythm accompanied by redundant riffs that are perfect for a lullaby. The drone changes a bit with ‘Robot Man,’ but the song still fails to promote any energetic inflection whatsoever.
Who knows, maybe their cheeky costumes and beautiful photographs will keep them around for a while. While it does have the ability to sweep you into a fantasy land of sorts, the album is an average display of hipster playfulness, conjoined by soothing vocals and imaginary tales. Acoustic Sessions is a fun album to listen to, but you may not feel compelled to listen to it again; though.
Just ask Guns ‘n Roses’ Axl Rose or try and listen to any recent Korn album without cringing. Many bands quit (R.E.M., Sonic Youth), others tone down their sound (Metallica) and some keep regurgitating what they’ve been doing for decades (The Rolling Stones).
Kim Thayil’s guitar traditionally wails around on the dissonant side of the spectrum and singer Chris Cornell still deals out high-pitched screeches like a rock version of Celine Dion – but they have audibly matured. And considering that the grunge kids of two decades ago have aged with them, many will appreciate this more grown-up, adult sound.
After 52 minutes, one question remains: now that Soundgarden seems to have arrived at their definitive sound, will they become one of those established bands that don’t evolve anymore? Like fellow Seattle-ites Pearl Jam, or grandfathers of rock Aerosmith, for example. Or will they continue to develop their sound, like Muse or Radiohead?
Ever since the 2012 release of their double a-side single, ‘Flying To Berlin/Husbands’, Savages have occupied an interesting space in the musical spectrums. With a mixture of old school post-punk and noise rock, they appear to be the perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans. Their frenetic, dark, and sinisterly beautiful style has been receiving rave reviews the world over from critics and fans alike and their latest EP Adore Life is more of the same.
This is an album about love, but one would hesitate to call any of the tracks traditional love songs. Instead of falling into classic song writing tropes about how amazing love is, Savages instead approach the subject matter from a much darker perspective. This is an album about the true power of love, nd how that isn’t always a good thing.
The opening track, ‘The Answer’, heaves with energy from the get go, telling the story of an almost obsessive infatuation, with frontwoman Jehnny Beth (real name Camille Berthomier) repeating the words “If you don't love me/You don't love anybody” throughout the song just to drive home the fact that love can be a dangerous force. The hectic instrumentation provides a binary opposition to Beth’s sweet tones and is the perfect start to the record.
That is not to say that Adore Life is unrelenting in its aggression. This album is a mixture of forceful distortion, British post-punk and torch songs, and nowhere is this more apparent than on the song ‘Adore’. It’s slow, it’s bassy, it’s reverby (is that even a word?) it’s dark, but above all, beautiful. Concluding with a lyrical coda accompanied by a slow crescendo, it sounds like something you would hear in a smoky Paris café at 3AM. Make no mistakes, this is an early contender for one of the best songs of 2016.
Even towards the end of the album, they manage to keep the energy up. The penultimate track, ‘T.I.W.YG’, is almost a sequel to ‘The Answer’ in terms of style and narrative. The instrumentation provides an organised cacophony to truly drive home the fact that, this is what you get when you mess with love.
For what is only a second album, Adore Life shows a surprising maturity from the London-based female foursome. The lyrics are emotive without being contrived, the instrumentation is varied without being schizophrenic and the style is classic without being clichéd. This is more neo-post punk as opposed to post-punk revival and thank god it is, because the last thing we need is another attempt to revive a past genre. Remember the comment about the band being perfect cross-section of Siouxsie and the Banshees and Swans? This album hits the nail on the head, being equal parts a love song to the past and an ode to the fuzzy future.