Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live review – intense and provocative

(Caroline)
The Savages frontwoman goes solo with an accompanying erotic short story collection

Camille “Jehnny Beth” Berthomier spent the 00s fronting Savages, a post-punk outfit dedicated to discomfort and artistic provocation. The solo Jehnny Beth continues to strut, glare and finger the uncomfortable places.

Accompanying the release of her debut solo album is an illustrated collection of erotic short stories, CALM: Crimes Against Love Memories, whose preface rails against societal restraints on women’s desire while embracing the sovereignty of the imagination. To Love Is to Live is delivered in the same breath, so to speak.

As ever, Beth’s theorising is air-tight, but ironically, the album stutters most when it is being most provocative. The intense Flower hymns an exotic dancer at an LA bar – “a flower filled with murder”, no less – while I’m a Man finds Cillian Murphy voicing Beth’s “feelings of hatred and violence”.

Expanding Savages’ post-punk remit, these 11 songs do embrace welcome variations in pace; there are sax, strings and electronics. Cleverest of all is the way Beth intones “We will sin together” (rather than the expected word, “sings”) on the track of the same name. Most novel are the simple piano songs, such as the excellent The Rooms or French Countryside, which meditates on “how hard it is to show you really care”.

Watch the video for Flower by Jehnny Beth.

Contributor

Kitty Empire

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth: Utopian Ashes review – a welcome surprise
The Primal Scream frontman trades brashness for contemplation in this rewarding collaboration with the former Savages singer

Phil Mongredien

27, Jun, 2021 @12:00 PM

Article image
Jehnny Beth: To Love Is to Live review – solo Savage defiant and intimate
Moving between vulnerability and aggression, Beth’s solo album contains multitudes, from sex to cinematic washes, ballads to thrash, released with a collection of erotic stories

Aimee Cliff

12, Jun, 2020 @7:00 AM

Article image
Jehnny Beth of Savages: 'Sex is a wonderful way to test yourself'
The confrontational singer explores her fears and self-doubt on a solo album and in a collection of erotic fiction. She talks about learning to show her caring side – and finding cannibalism ‘horny’

Laura Snapes

14, Feb, 2020 @6:00 AM

Article image
Beth Ditto review – a joyous comeback
Pop has been duller without former Gossip singer Beth Ditto’s outspoken politics and powerhouse voice

Bernadette McNulty

16, Apr, 2017 @8:00 AM

Article image
Amyl and the Sniffers review – a blizzard from Oz
Channelling singer Amy Taylor’s rage and joyous abandon, the Australian punk band bring their second album to glorious fighting life

Kitty Empire

28, Nov, 2021 @5:30 AM

Article image
Savages: Silence Yourself – review

The London four-piece's stark, arresting debut album harks back to the monochrome 80s, writes Kitty Empire

Kitty Empire

04, May, 2013 @11:04 PM

Article image
Wall: Untitled review – palpably fractious post-punk
(Wharf Cat)

Laura Snapes

30, Apr, 2017 @7:00 AM

Article image
Savages/Palma Violets – review
An 'all-girl Joy Division' make a powerful, if rather dour, impression on this post-punk double bill

Kate Mossman

28, Jul, 2012 @11:01 PM

Article image
Fontaines DC: A Night at Montrose, Dublin review – a blast of joy and disquiet
The Dublin five-piece launch their brilliant second album with an intense, pre-recorded livestream event and bonus commentary

Dorian Lynskey

08, Aug, 2020 @1:00 PM

Article image
Mattiel: Satis Factory review – witty and assured garage rock
(Heavenly)

Emily Mackay

09, Jun, 2019 @6:59 AM