The period where punk crossed over into post-punk yielded some intense, exciting music, and London’s Savages mine that particular vein with gusto.
While their sound is a powerful, stark lurch for the jugular, their love of director John Cassavetes helps to place them firmly into the more art-house camp of post-punk. (The fiery single ‘Husbands’ is named after Cassavetes’ 1970 film and the lines of dialogue that open the album are lifted from 1977’s Opening Night.)
Love of indie-film directors aside, Savages mean business. They want their live shows to be an immersive experience, so have laid out some ground rules that include no Instagramming, tweeting or videoing. They probably wouldn’t be too impressed if you updated your Facebook status at one of their gigs either.
The album cover art features what looks like song lyrics, but is instead a manifesto of sorts, while the back cover offers the more streamlined slogan, ‘Don’t let the fuckers get you down’. But perhaps the best piece of advice is the inside front cover’s ‘This album is to be played loud in the foreground’.
And then there’s the music itself, full of passion and executed with commanding precision. When Savages are on, they are most definitely on, so the band find some quiet spaces at the beginning, middle and end of their album – a protracted opening sample before erupting into ‘Shut Up’, a quietly menacing two-minute instrumental as a centrepiece and a disarmingly elegant closer that winds down to, of all things, a clarinet solo. In between all of this, it’s less surprising though consistently vital bloodlust that’s given little adornment. Silence Yourself is certainly nothing new, but that doesn’t make it any less magnificent.
**** out of five stars
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Silence Yourself is out now on Pop Noire/Matador/Remote Control.