Album Review: The Modern Savage Bring An Upbeat To Grunge Music In “Unwilling Participants”

Grunge music beats in the negativity of life. Now, I am not saying I do not love grunge music, or recognize the genius of its eternal icon Kurt Cobain. Yet, it is a genre born out of frustration. From its chords to its words, it is a music laced to release one’s agitations through sonics that twist as if they, themselves, carry anger. Thus, The Modern Savage standout amongst the many artists trying to modernize or add their own edge to the genre because they are the most upbeat, at least, in their newest album Unwilling Participants

Admittedly, it is rather strange to hear grunge have an uptempo. For Unwilling Participants’ first song “Pull Me”, you will feel the difference, but it is not bad at all. It is like trying chocolate ice cream for the first time after only eating vanilla: you mark the changes and grow to appreciate them until you find yourself doing chocolate-vanilla swirls. I want to say that Unwilling Participants has a “pop-ish” vibe, but I do not feel fully comfortable placing it in that category. For one, pop music has more electro-synths then ever, while The Modern Savage are strictly instrumental, using their chords to analyze listeners inner discord. Moreover, in recent years, pop music  has also geared into its own sense of angst and negativism towards the world. Although the pop genre is more open to social discrepancy, The Modern Savage are only trying to step above that. It is as if  they are making music that alleviates anger through sonic positivism. Hence, their aim is not to take away the disgruntled nature of grunge, but, instead, add a band-aid to it that comes in the form of faster, lighter drumming and guitar riffing and slight hints of blues within their arrangements. Thus, their music is like hearing your wounds and signing up for spiritual surgery through the up-tempo vocals of lead singer, Jenni May.

May has a voice that is like sugar being burned; it becomes dark caramel as fire hits it. That fire comes in the form of grunge’s inherent angst, and its desire to let the world know its disappointments over blazing guitars and drums. As she sings above the music, you hear her sweetness seethe and simmer as she drops her lyrics into their rhythms. The result is charming to listeners who will enjoy the unique blend of her voice’s sweet & sour. By adding slight rasps and gratings to her voice that would otherwise be heard as gentile, May becomes like a vocal flower with teeth; you look at its beauty but are careful to go near. If she were singing in another genre, like pop, or using other vocal plays, you would receive the delicacy of her voice, but this is grunge which means the lightness of her voice needs to hit some level of darkness. When it does, it gives the genre a new layer called hope. Songs such as “Straight And Narrow “, “No Love Lost”, and “Neon Tongue”, lyrically, address issues but also tell listeners to move forward, which seems new and refreshing for a music that, usually, remains singing about problems but not coming up with solutions or ways to feel better. Yet, songs like “All Hail” give honesty and relief to listeners who understand the moment you know its time to move on from a relationship. Moreover, the final track, “Bow Down” is like a grunge anthem for kings and queens that should be played, in response, to all haters.

The Modern Savage’s Unwilling Participants is a good record for those that want to release and relieve their inner turmoil. It tells listeners to confront and move on from the tensions of life with a sense of realism, which makes them not mind paying attention to such advice that is sung earnestly: not preachily.  We all are Unwilling Participants to life’s suffering, but we can be willing one’s to its healing, as well; a lesson The Modern Savage has learned. For More Information On The Modern Savage and to Buy Unwilling Participants Click Here