by Robert Defina

Adore Life
Matador Records

If Evanescence and Muse baked a cake but missed a few ingredients, it would taste like Savages sounds. Their collaboration of dark metal influence over indie pop is undoubtedly unique, but doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders. It seems that Savages’ fresh branding on two genres never truly succeeds independently because it is not heavy enough to evoke angst and not creative enough to evoke raw emotion. This leads to a sophomore record that never really settles one way or the other. The great thing for Savages is that their identity is solidified with Adore Life – a concoction of synths, drums, haunting vocals and haphazard lyrics. The question, though, is whether or not they are really working to their potential on each of these 10 tracks. Bands should take note that making a 10-track record is a risk only rewarded when all ten of those tracks provide an illuminating presence. This usually isn’t the case. And here, the tracks don’t provide enough diversity to stand out strikingly on their own. The result is a muddle of monotone humming that occasionally has a great sound to it but has no business being forty minutes long.

Moments on the record that find their way around this one-trick pony style include the electrically driven “Slowing Down the World.” Old school rock’n’roll influences are present and feel fresh here, creating a larger statement than any of the first four songs that precede it. Also notable is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-sounding “I Need Something New,” which tiptoes the border of unique and irritating. What’s great about lead singer Jehnny Beth’s vocals is they cover many ranges that admittedly suit whatever she sings quite well, but it’s the directions she takes the vocals on some tracks that remain questionable. Even the wavering “Mechanics” struggles to match vocal melody with odd instrumental pacing.

The reality of Adore Life is that it stands as an indication of a band that is trying to be unique without accomplishing much of that uniqueness. The right elements seem to be here, but there’s a lack of clear direction. From their first record to this one, Savages hasn’t really evolved significantly enough to warrant any gold stars. Unfortunately, though, what they have attempted to do to evoke this evolution hasn’t achieved its goal. Adore Life is not entirely a misfire, but it’s certainly not an album to be proud about.

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