Interpol’s Turn On the Bright Lights is one of my favorite records and you know why? It has heart—that’s why. For all the criticisms that Paul Banks’ lyrics gets, lines like “Her stories were boring and stuff,” “It’s in the way that she walks, her heaven is never enough,” “I gave a lot to you / I take a lot from you too,” “Her love’s a pony, my love’s subliminal” were, to me and others that have been in the same shoes, a realistic depiction of relationships that the Strokes’ Julian Casablancas could never muster because he was too concerned about getting drunk and getting laid, probably in that order. The people who wrote them off by naming bands that came before them were right, of course, but I’d argue that because they presented themselves with a better rhythm section that post-punk requires and garage rock doesn’t, they sounded remarkably fresh when they first came onto the scene.
Savages are the same way in that they’ve been compared to those same bands with the obligatory Siouxsee and the Banshees or Sleater-Kinney namedrop because they’re women. However, and this is more important, they are not the same way because their rhythm section struggles to matter. Bassist Ayse Hassan does her best but she’s drowned out by the overproduced and overbearing onslaught by drummer Fay Milton (seriously, listen to the complete mismatch between her and the rest of the gang on “I Am Here” before the crescendo hits). Meanwhile, guitarist Gemma Thompson plays a riff if we’re lucky but mostly settles for some “menacing” feedback if we’re not and vocalist Jehnny Beth doesn’t know how to sing a melody so she shouts every word with the same efficacy as “Fuck you”’s – which gets boring after a while – and she doesn’t know how to write a chorus so she shouts a hook over and over – which gets boring after a while. And when they promote themselves with their oft-talked about manifestos with false advertising like, “SAVAGES’ INTENTION IS TO CREATE A SOUND, INDESTRUCTIBLE, MUSICALLY SOLID, WRITTEN FOR THE STAGE AND DESIGNED WITH ENOUGH NUANCES TO PROVIDE A WIDE RANGE OF EMOTIONS,” I’m forced to call them out on their bullshit. They have exactly one emotion – they’re angry. Why and at what is anyone’s best guess.
All that being said, “Husbands” is one of my favorite tracks of 2013 (a much better version than the one that was released as a b-side in 2012), even if the hook sounds like it was lifted straight out of Patti Smith’s “Land” (the one that went “Horses, horses, horses” instead of “Husbands, husbands, husbands”). The part where Beth screams “HE HAD NO EYES!” with just the right amount of reverb (as in a lot) is genuinely terrifying and that’s the sort of detail I live for. I’d also keep closer “Marshal Dear,” because “There are suicides in every dream” is a cool / memorable lyric, because Fay Milton actually demonstrates restraint in her dreaming for the first time on the record, and because the jazzy instrumentation (piano and a saxophone solo?!) are a rarity, not just in the record, but in the genre overall, really. Why those things weren’t good enough to appear elsewhere on the album is a question for Deep Thought to answer, because I certainly cannot. And…I guess the bridge in “City’s Full” is worth mentioning. The best part though is that as if angry by the amount of attention Savages have received this year and their name being dragged around in comparison, Sleater-Kinney reunited later that year, which basically renders this band obsolete.
I think I’ve read something similar to “IN OUR MODERN WORLD, MAN ASSIDUOUSLY ABANDONS HIS LIFE TO PRACTICAL NECESSITIES AND HIS IMAGINATION TO SLAVERY. MANIPULATIONS AND FEARS – MANIPULATION BY FEAR – ARE METED OUT TO YOUNG, INTELLIGENT AND RADICAL PEOPLE WHO YIELD TO THE PRESSURE OF ACCEPTED PRACTICES AND MANY AGE-OLD SERVITUDES. THE ELDER GENERATION HASN’T COME TO WARN THEM: EACH OF THEM CAME TO TELL ABOUT THEMSELVES. EACH ONE TO TELL HOW THEY HAD EATEN, HOW THEY HAD SLEPT, HOW THEY HAD IMPORTANT ORGASMS, IMPORTANT CHILDHOODS AND DREAMS. BECAUSE AN HONEST LIFE IS ADVERTISED AS A LIFE OF SILENCE, NORMALITY AND DULL CONCEIT. ART IS STULTIFIED. LOVE A PRIVILEGE. AND IN THE VICINITY OF OUR MOST SPLENDID CREATIVE YOUTH, IT IS STRONGLY ADVICE TO KEEP OUR MOUTH SHUT IF WE WANT TO SUCCEED,” hundreds of times just with less self-importance (“ASSIDUOUSLY ABANDONS?” “IMPORTANT ORGASMS?” “IN THE VICINITY OF OUR MOST SPLENDID CREATIVE YOUTH?”) and less grammatical errors (“STRONGLY ADVICE?”). The problem with typing stuff out in all caps is that your computer doesn’t give you the squiggly lines because it thinks it’s an acronym.