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Savages: Adore Life
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.
One of the shortest tracks on the album is ‘DMT Song’. Created with the help of bassist/vocalist, Thundercat, it is the most vocally dense song on the record. Slow and dreamy, with high-pitched, slightly dissonant, vocals, it's a good intro to the next track, ‘The Nightcaller’. Aptly titled, this song features a groovy dance bass underneath a synthesizer melody that sounds ideal for waving your arms around on the dance floor.
‘Getting There’, with vocals by Niki Randa, is reminiscent of Massive Attack. Not only because of the elongated vocals, but the muffled bass beat and dreamy bell sounds could certainly also have spawned from the brains of 3D and Daddy G. The same goes for ‘Hunger’; a song that sounds like it was recorded underwater and also features Randa. Its spacious melody is broken up by a bridge with echoing vocals and harpsichord-like keyboards.
Erykah Badu is the only vocalist to appear on the album that Flying Lotus hasn’t worked with previously. Her vocals work really well on the African sounding track ‘See Thru To U’ - hopefully, Badu will become incorporated into Ellison’s fixed team of vocalists.
‘Putty Boy Strut’ sounds like a broken toy gone mental, with a catchy musical theme that returns in the deeper layers of ‘Me Yesterday/Corded’.
‘Electric Candyman’ features vocals by Radiohead frontman, Thom Yorke, and is a slow track with male and female vocal melodies mixed together in a way that almost sounds disorienting. Yorke’s voice is hardly recognisable, which seems like a waste considering his great, and highly distinguishable, vocal abilities.
Divisive British indie-rock band, the Kooks, are is back at it with their fourth studio album, Listen. The band’s previous album, Junk of the Heart, was ill-received by both fans and critics, and the pressure has very much been on.
'Around Town' opens the album with a ridiculously upbeat, retro tone that you will almost certainly find your feet tapping away to; a quite surprising start that signals an even more surprising pattern for the rest of the album.
Though the distinctively different sound is explicit, the band still manages to retain a degree of familiarity, as to not alienate fans. Said retro vibe is very much present throughout the rest of the album, with 'Forgive & Forget' following through with a 70s/80s influence.
'West Side' comes along and changes up the sound of the album to something a bit mellower with a sleeker beat, allowing Luke Pritchard’s utterly distinctive vocals to shine. Just as you start to settle get into the nostalgic influences, 'See Me Now' slaps you out of that comfort, with Pritchard’s vocals taking a more melancholic tone as he laments about adolescent mistakes to his late father; a touchingly soulful tribute.
It Was London, however, sets the album back on the same track and the influences of yesteryear colour the track with the electric guitar dominating its sound, fuelled by political muses as it narrates riots and mayhem. Saying 'Bad Habit' is catchy would be an understatement; it's a typically infesting Kooks sing-along that is likely to follow you for days - whether you like it or not.
The catchy tunes continue from here, with 'Down and Electric Heart', while 'Sunrise' sees Pritchard seductively makes an entrance chanting “I want you, to show me the way to your heart.”
The album closes off with 'Sweet Emotion' - the album's closest encounter with romance whose piano solo provides a fitting finale.
While this is far from being a revolutionary album, Listen does signal the Kooks' return to form for fans, offering a clean-cut, freshly rejuvenated twist on their usual sound. Detractors, however, will find plenty to pick at.