A savage is the transformation underlying what happens to the characters of Lord of the Flies once they realize that there is no turning back. This sort of conviction, this sort of desperation, this sort of primitive impulse is shown in everything from the way the children in the book hunt and kill a wild boar, to the way they turn on each other and even conspire to kill an equal by heaving a boulder from a mountain onto him. Their name inspired by such novels, London-based quartet Savages take the ultimate reflection on the new genre of post-punk revival with their monstrously thriving debut, Silence Yourself.
Just like its title depicts, the music on here is intended for audiences to shut up and simply give in to the women’s boisterous ways. Songs like “I Am Here” finish with a whirlwind of noise that make it easy to see why the tag of ‘noise rock’ is somewhat appropriate for Savages. But instead, the band is rooted in garage and punk rock so much so that influences like Hüsker Dü and Fugazi shine throughout. There are songs like “She Will” that entail a great amount of atmosphere and preface, instead of an immediate attack on noise – it wraps itself inside of a steaming train that slams forward. It’s these kinds of robust moments – delicately designed if you will – that make the music on Silence Yourself unlike other rock acts from this year: an indicative and clear frontrunner for the best pure rock album of the year.
On “No Face” the band reveals a grooving bass line before the menacing guitars find a way to take center stage. While the band noticeably has a leaning for the more fast-paced territory of rock and all of its vastly swift interplay, the energy in which they present each song is what makes Silence Yourself that much more stunning. The bridge is represented through a tempo reduction where the drums subside behind the main focus before that aforementioned bass rides again. And while there is no direct title track, “Shut Up” conveys this with a song that introduces singer Jehnny Beth to roaring sensation. Each member is uniformly significant – the bass is just as brilliant as the remarkable guitar playing, and the drums are dynamic and tenacious – however, there’s little denying that the true spotlight is on Beth and her striking, memorable vocals.
The band’s ability to embark on dissimilar points of view is an appealing combination as closing song “Marshal Dear” is a gleaming foray of rock that sounds like the moon as it overcasts the comforting night. Beth sings “Can you hear me now? Silence yourself…silence yourself…silence yourself,” all while a twinkling jazz piano endures through the solemn tone of the song – all that’s left in the end is a smoky saxophone. It’s a sign of misty transparency that Savages craft and they, in turn, fully give in to the album’s demonstrative, utterly terrific musicianship.
Ultimately, Silence Yourself is eleven songs of balanced, well-constructed rock music. Even the interlude “Dead Nature” (which mostly acts as a breather in the middle of the album) is purposeful as it compliments the album’s darkened theme. And still, it’s not as if Savages sound like many other bands currently making music. It’s not because the styles are far too different, nor because the musical chops are better here but rather embarrassingly, Savages just believe in everything they do with such self-assured confidence – a conviction so strong that it could move mountains of boulders.