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+ {Jehnny Beth}

Armed with an arsenal of inspirators: think SIOUXSIE or PATTI SMITH fronting SLEATER-KINNEY, London all-girl post-punk quartet, SAVAGES, have been echoing the halcyon days of ’76-’78 (and beyond) from October 2011. Led out by Jehnny Beth, formerly of French Anglos JOHN & JEHN, and also comprising Gemma Thompson (guitar), Ayse Hassan (bass) and Fay Milton (drums), the angsty ladies of rock first supported BRITISH SEA POWER, the following January, a gig that impressed SIGUR ROS manager, John Best. The freshly-formed Pop Noire Records released SAVAGES first goth platter, the double-A-sided `Flying To Berlin’ / `Husbands’, while an EP `I Am Here’, rounded off a promising 2012 for Jehn and Co.
2013 kicked off with appearances on the Big Apple’s CMJ Music Marathon, where the American based Matador Records signed them almost immediately; a Later… With Jools Holland spot and an award from the BBC generated further interest and advance sales of the debut album, SILENCE YOURSELF (2013) {*8}. Making FALL OUT BOY look decidedly girly and un-punk by comparison, the no-nonsense, ballsy and blasé SAVAGES swaggered through the she-Devil’s best swoons: `Shut Up’, `I Am Here’, `She Will’, `No Face’, `Husbands’ and the quieter `Marshal Dear’.
In the three years leading up to their sophomore set, SAVAGES were active on vinyl by way of a triumvirate of independent releases: the 12”/10-minute `Fuckers’ (b/w a version of SUICIDE’s `Dream Baby Dream’), a collaborative Pop Noire adventure with experimental Japanese outfit BO NINGEN on the one-track `Words To The Blind’ (2014) – clocking in at 37 minutes – and on the swap-over 12” with A DEAD FOREST INDEX: `In What I’m Seeing; The Sun’; the flip-side a version of `Mechanics’, soon-to-be the concluding piece on 2016’s ADORE LIFE {*8}.
Probably fed-up with comparisons to SIOUXSIE, PJ HARVEY and all sundry, the spell-binding SAVAGES proved to be more align with SWANS or SMASHING PUMPKINS. Fearless and feisty in her attempts at bridging the gap between mutated metal and post-punk psychedelia, Jehnny channeled her cathartic, post-apocalyptic manifestos through the mind-bending `The Answer’, `Evil’, `Sad Person’, `When In Love’ and `T.I.W.Y.G.’ (or “This Is What You Get”).
SAVAGES were duly put on hold. A brace of subsequent collaborations with friend Romy Madley Croft’s outfit, the XX, and GORILLAZ (on the NOEL GALLAGHER shared song `We Got The Power’) ensued. Then, in 2019 (after a Cesar nomination for her role in Catherine Corsini’s French movie, An Impossible Love), JEHNNY BETH collaborated with Johnny Hostile – i.e. SAVAGES producer Nicolas Conge – on the Chelsea Manning documentary OST, `Xy Chelsea’.
Roping in producers Hostile, Flood and Atticus Ross, banshee BETH was ready to unfetter her solo debut, TO LOVE IS TO LIVE (2020) {*7}. Complete with IDLES’ Joe Talbot and acclaimed Peaky Blinders actor Cillian Murphy (on tracks `How Could You’ and the monologist `A Place Above’ respectively), the set showed more than a glimpse of her industrial, avant-punk jazz-pop; shrieking and shrilling sounds recalling PATTI SMITH, PJ HARVEY and SLITS’ Ari Up. `I’m The Man’ and the breath-taking `Flower’ were certainly the catalysts here, both jarring and sprawling angst-y propositions in furious Technicolor, whilst the haunting `Heroine’ and the picturesque `French Countryside’, mirrored both sides of Jehnny’s sensual spectrum.
© MC Strong/MCS May2013-Jun2020

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