It’s difficult to think of a band more in control of their collective identity than Savages. Every aspect of their art – and its mediation to the masses – is planned and executed with meticulous care. The fact this fastidiousness is clearly motivated by love and respect for their craft, themselves and their audience, means that this love and respect is reciprocated by their fans tenfold.

Last January, they played a nine-date residency in New York, with audiences acting as unwitting but enthusiastic focus groups for new material. Each performance was filmed and analysed in detail, helping the quartet to gauge the crowd’s reactions and fine-tune songs accordingly. By basing any adjustments on empirical evidence, the band have imbued this second album with a sense of vindication that ‘Silence Yourself’ lacked.

This increased confidence manifests itself in a number of ways. With a mutual trust and understanding now firmly established between themselves and their listeners, there’s no need to include a mission statement on the record cover again. As the band themselves have explained, “It’s about the music and the message: together, one and the same.” Another significant development is that Jehnny Beth has become comfortable enough to let her guard down, and shift her lyrical focus to the “softer” subject of love. Unsurprisingly, in Savages’ hands, there’s very little soft about it.

On ‘Adore Life’, romantic desire is portrayed as a visceral, all-consuming experience, rather than a passive state. During ‘Sad Person’, Beth describes the emotion as “a disease” that infects lovers like “a rush of cocaine – the more you have, the more you crave,” and teases predatorily, “I’m not gonna hurt you, ‘cause I’m flirting with you”. Lust looms large throughout, bringing pain and vulnerability as well as power, and Beth’s exploration of this dichotomy lends the album real emotional heft.

‘Adore’ is the stand-out. Though rendered in the same stark, greyscale palette as the rest of the record, it swaps the compelling, punk aggression of ‘T.I.W.Y.G.’, ‘I Need Something New’ and ‘The Answer’ for a disquieting calmness conjured by Ayşe Hassan’s undulating bass line, Gemma Thompson’s trickling guitar work and Beth’s regret-fuelled, almost Piaf-like vocal. After a five-second pause, the final two minutes gradually build to a swirling climax, guided by the refrain, “I adore life, do you adore life?” It’s a call to arms that succinctly encapsulates the record’s overriding message: embrace the moment, whether good or bad, because it’s all any of us have.


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