Cash Savage and the Last Drinks – ‘So This Is Love’ review: potent and tumultuous

Five albums in, Cash Savage comes full circle with mournful, brutally honest love songs

A decade ago, Cash Savage and the Last Drinks released their breakthrough song. Displaying a more tender side to the band’s pub-perfected bluster, the 2013 track ‘I’m in Love’ helped to elevate the Melbourne ensemble from favoured local haunts like The Old Bar onto the national, and then international, circuit.

After casting her songwriting further afield with subsequent releases – including 2018’s ‘Good Citizens’, which directly addressed threats to the queer community – Savage has come full circle on her fifth studio album. Love is again the focus, but it’s not the stuff of pat satisfaction. Rather, it’s a starting point for dissecting romantic commitment and other forms of personal devotion – alongside startling reflections on maintaining mental health and shoring up a genuine sense of belonging in Australia’s queer and music cultures alike.

The opening title track sets the tone, with Savage’s voice low and grave to start before The Last Drinks expand outward for a sweeping statement on love’s ongoing challenges. Against the rising tide of Kat Mear’s fiddle and Roshan Khozouei’s piano, we hear the growing power of a seven-piece (and at times eight-piece) band that features members of Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Dr. Sure’s Unusual Practice, Kino Hotel and other Melbourne contemporaries. Stretching to almost seven minutes and peaking with soaring guitars, ‘So This Is Love’ culminates in the refrain “I’ve got a big love / Can’t hold it / Can’t fold it.”


Released in the wake of Savage’s marriage breakdown, these love songs are freighted with inevitable mournfulness. The lyrics are brutally honest, including the admission “I’ve got a fantasy that I can be everything you need” on the appropriately wobbly ballad ‘I Want To Be Everyone’. ‘Keep Working At Your Job’ starts like a tongue-in-cheek study of work-life balance, before Savage explains that her goal of being unlovable stands at odds with the subject’s goal of being loved. There’s even a line about the subject being “just like me / broken like the rest of us”, underscoring the album’s recurring theme of wavering mental health.

Savage has proven over the years that her vocal delivery can be as dark and powerful as it can be wry and light, and there’s a bit of all of that here. ‘Hold On’ employs ocker spoken word à la Blake Scott over a conscious widening and deepening of the band’s sound, while the tight, itchy pulse of ‘Push’ showcases Savage’s preacher-like fervour.

Opening with soft-focus synth, the plaintive ‘Every Day Is The Same’ is intensely personal in subject matter but also reminds us just how much of a communal effort The Last Drinks have been for more than a decade now, both on record and on the road. The band functions like one living, breathing unit – especially here, on the record’s most heartbreaking moment. Equally poignant is ‘Seahorse (I’ll Be Your Rainy Day)’, a close look at love in times of emotional hardship. It’s another sad song born out of years of happiness, and so it’s not all bad news.

As Savage navigates some of adult life’s greatest trials, she never sounds like she has things figured out. Case in point: the closer ‘Shake From The Heart’ kicks off with the telling line “I’m looking for an answer.” On a tense, cathartic tune that reanimates some of the prowling ominousness of Savage and band’s stormiest early records, she’s still out there searching for meaning, just like the rest of us.


  • Release date: April 28
  • Record label: Mistletone/Inertia

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