Savages hit a sharp turning point as they were finishing the tour in support of their 2013 debut, Silence Yourself. The London-based foursome realized that the frenzied reaction they were getting was atypical: The fans seemed to be having near-religious experiences. “There was a point where we couldn’t ignore it anymore, and we had to find a way to give back,” recalls frontwoman Jehnny Beth (above far left). “They didn’t just like the band; they really believed. And I think when you’re a musician, you can’t help but feel a certain responsibility from that.”
Their response was Adore Life, a haunting exercise in postpunk that doesn’t rewrite the genre’s rules so much as it stomps on them with steel-toed Dr. Martens. Listening to “The Answer,” the album’s first single, it’s easy to understand why people react so viscerally to the band, which also includes guitarist Gemma Thompson, bassist Ayşe Hassan and drummer Fay Milton. While their first album saw the band creating ambitious art rock in the spirit of Gang of Four and Joy Division, Adore Life expands on their more abstract and chaotic moments, resulting in a sound that’s abrasive yet layered—and captivating throughout. “This record has a very personal attachment for some people,” Beth explains. “It allows them to start questioning things they had buried somewhere.”
Beth, who is originally from France, describes Adore Life as an “anxious record.” Indeed, psychic weight is palpable in everything from the hypnotic groove of “Sad Person” to the surprising vulnerability of “Mechanics.” “When we started the band, the idea of writing loud and fast music was a conscious rebellion against the London scene at the time,” Beth says about the formation of Savages in 2011. “You always set out to create the band you aren’t able to find, and it seemed like you needed a softer message and softer music in order to make it. We wanted to take a step away from that and see what happens.”
It should come as no surprise, then, that Beth has expectations for the album that go beyond viral marketing campaigns and SoundScan tabulations. She excitedly recounts a story about a fan who quit his job after being inspired by the aptly titled “Fuckers,“ a song they wrote in the heat of that fervent response they were getting on tour.
“I think this record might help listeners introduce some sort of change; it’s one of the best things a record can do,” Beth says. At their core, Savages want to be that spark, igniting a fire that smolders long after the music fades out.
“It would be a gift,” Beth says. “It would be a miracle almost.”