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Albums of 2013 – 21. Savages – ‘Silence Yourself’

Silence Yourself. It’s the kind of preaching, pretentious pseudo-philosophy that we’ve come to expect from bands who’re all talk and no action. That it’s the last line of Savages’ manifesto (the same manifesto reproduced in full on the album cover) is indicative of their seriousness, but for anyone who’s previously attended their live shows, the proposition feels slightly redundant in wake of their music.

In a similar (though more decisive) move to Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O, Savages performances are punctuated by a display of not-so subtle signs: ‘WE BELIEVE THAT THE USE OF A PHONES DURING A GIG PREVENTS ALL OF US FROM TRULY IMMERSING OURSELVES,’ one read. A fair point, certainly, but as an album Silence Yourself makes it so much clearer and concisely – even the title of its opening track, ‘Shut Up’, simply cuts the bullshit. Make no mistake, when Savages perform they don’t need signs, and it’s their ability to capture the ferocity of their live shows on record that makes Silence Yourself such an electrifying debut.

Together the band are a mammoth force, but they never allow their sound to get bogged down. Each song has clearly been edited and re-edited until only its core components remain: cold, mechanic rhythm sections guide frenetic yet focused guitar runs under a brooding coat of reverb. Frontwoman Jehnny Beth’s voice, when it needs to, bubbles to boiling point – each intonation of the phrase ‘I am here’ on the titular track feels like a progressively sharper attack on the senses. Curiously it is during these moments of disorder when the band is sonically at its tightest.

With such obvious influences (Siouxsie Sioux, Joy Division et al) it’s almost as if Savages concocted their manifesto so as to differentiate themselves from their predecessors. They need not have worried, for Savages are one of the finest British post-punk bands of the past decade, and with or without their prompts, we’re listening.

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