The Modern Savage is a band from Anchorage, Alaska consisting of Jenni May (vocals), John Cripps (guitar, synth, backing vocals), Matt Eley (guitar, synth, backing vocals), Ivan Molesky (bass) and David Devlin (drums). Their recent release Subtle Advances is a sprawling eleven- song rock album that showcases a very well rounded band you will want to keep your eye on.
My first thoughts were that the music sounded reminiscent of Interpol only fronted by a powerful female singer who brings the qualities you want in a leading lady. As the album progressed other traits started to reveal themselves and I was sometimes reminded of the pop buoyancy of a band like Passion Pit or the dance-ability of a band like Phoenix.
The album begins with “Filed Teeth” which is one of the most dynamic songs on the album. It starts with minimal instrumentation. May's vocals are intimate and she sounds like Beth Gibbons from Portishead. The song builds some energy when the tom drums enter and it’s not too long before the band is intensely rocking out.
The band ups the ante on “4th of July” in which the guitar work is exceptional. My reference to Interpol earlier is evident in this track. That being said, the juxtaposition from May’s vocals are glaring differences between the band. The explore a similar vibe with “Hummingbird.” Her lyrics explore themes rather than following a narrative. She sings lines like, “your grace under pressure” and “I don’t care if you’re a Marilyn Monroe.
“Pusher” is the first real deviation for the band. They implement electronic hip-hop style drums and a pop sensibility. May flirts with different vocal styles during the verse and chorus. The band utilizes soft, atmospheric Postal Service type synths on “June Bride” and sound epic and grandiose on “Run.”
Subtle Advances is a solid effort and it is very enjoyable but is far from perfect. The band still seems to be in an embryonic stage toying with different styles while trying to find their own. Overall, the album is an impressive achievement but I have a feeling their best work is still ahead of them.
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