There’s no question Savages were the highlight of SXSW 2013, and I’ll repeat here what I wrote about them then:
The London-based post-punk band played their set in virtually no light, dressed in black, their details caught only occasionally by a flicker of strobe, totally androgynous except for singer Jehnny Beth’s patent stiletto pumps. Beth is the most haunting, magnetic frontperson I’ve seen since … Nick Cave? Michael Gira? Jeff Buckley? There’s a lot of Sinead O’Connor in her — visually, yes, in the hard angles of her face, the lightning intensity of her eyes, the military-cropped hair — but in her ferocious voice, too, and devastating presence. The band plays with the bleak urgency of the Birthday Party or Siouxsie And The Banshees. I stood at the base of the stage and was totally captivated; by the time they closed with the magnificent “Husbands,” Beth’s voice was curling like feedback, leaping like sparks.
I don’t know a single person who’s seen Savages and hasn’t walked away a convert, and I can’t remember higher anticipation for a debut album from a new band in years. Now, that album, Silence Yourself, is here to stream. The Siouxsie and Birthday Party comps still seem pretty apt, although Savages update their post-punk revivalism with a richness of sound that could only be produced in a modern-day studio. It’s an urgent, harrowing, life-affirming work of immense precision, craft, and passion. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Listen.
Silence Yourself is out 5/7 via Matador.