This London-based female quartet broke out in 2013 with the debut album Silence Yourself, a fierce, 11-track collection that revived the scrappy, angular sounds of predecessors like Siouxsie Sioux, Gang of Four, and the Raincoats. Sure, they may have been decades late to the post-punk party, but their chaotic sound felt fresh and vital in a year that was scant on tough, abrasive rock and roll.
For their follow-up, Savages don’t mess with the formula too much. Instead, they sharpen their focus, offering a loosely thematic collection of love songs. Just don’t call these tunes romantic. On “Sad Person,” frontwoman Jehnny Beth (born Camille Berthomier) laments, “Love is a disease, the strongest addiction I know,” before comparing the emotion to cocaine (“The more you have, the more you crave”). Elsewhere, her lyrics read like a Valentine’s Day card sent by Quentin Tarantino, whether she’s plotting to breakout from the boredom of monogamy (“I Need Something Now”) or refusing to give into a partner’s pleas for change (“Evil”).
It’s dark subject matter, sure, but also irrefutably compelling. And Savages rhythm section helps amp up the urgency: Ayse Hassan’s bass lines serve almost as a de facto second vocalist. Overall, this is an an album that feels on the brink of falling apart. It doesn’t, but that tension is a pleasure all its own. “This is what you get when you mess with love!” Beth howls through an ocean of feedback on “T.I.W.Y.G”—and whether she means it as a promise or a threat, we’ll take it.