The Gay Blades | Savages (Triple Crown)

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“Mick Jagger” is a keeper, combining “ooh ooh”s, tightly strummed guitars, and Westfield’s now familiar wail.

Aside from the burst of swagger called “Rock N’ Roll” that opens Savages, this album remind me of a handful of artists: Koufax, Desparecidos, Arctic Monkeys, Hot Hot Heat, even the less-folkier songs of Bright Eyes. All of this is to say that, while this Jersey City duo doesn’t really offer anything earth-shatteringly new, they do have a very talented, enjoyable and catchy bunch of songs.
Track two, “Try to Understand,” is a plea to Charlie to make amends before it’s too late. Clark Westfield has one of those trembling, yelp-y voices very similar to Koufax’s Robert Suchan, the kind that makes you want to scoop it up in your arms, fill your ears, and take it under your wing. He sometimes slips into a near-speak before opening those pipes and yowling in key again. The music’s upbeat indie pop; you simply can’t listen to this album and feel down.
With its “ooh la la”s, “Puppy Mill Presents” (Puppy Mill being, of course, the other half of The Gay Blades) has a bit of a flashback feel. “Mick Jagger” is a keeper, combining “ooh ooh”s, tightly strummed guitars, and Westfield’s now familiar wail. Definitely tops on this record. “Why Winter in Detroit?” is another good one, high-energy and upbeat. But then…aren’t they all good?
The answer is yes—a rarity, no? If you don’t believe me, listen to the almost old-fashioned-sounding “November Fight Song,” the yearning “Too Cool to Quit,” the pleading “Shadow’s Like a Ghost.” “Burns and Shakes” has a bit of that throwback feel—whether an homage to early rock ’n’ roll or to Koufax is anyone’s guess—but man, does this song recall Koufax like no other. We get a taste of Westfield’s sweet falsetto on “Wasted on the Youth”; by “Every Night Is Like a Revival,” he’s mastered Jarrod Gorbel’s (The Honorary Title) lazy drawl. Hidden track “This Is How Our Conversation Ends…” is a bit of a step back: slower, quieter—and hidden (grr).
Throughout Savages’ 12 songs, Westfield’s voice is endearing yet not quite trademark; it’s too similar to others in that regard. That shouldn’t deter from the fact that Savages is a very solid offering, one that deserves more than a few plays on your iPod. A- | Laura Hamlett
RIYL: Koufax, The Honorary Title, Conor Oberst

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