Release Date: Feb 18, 2014
Record label: PIAS
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The Jezabels' sophomore full-length album, 2014's The Brink, finds the acclaimed Australian rock outfit fleshing out their dramatic synth rock sound with aid of expert producer Dan Grech-Marguerat (Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Hurts). Once again showcasing the talents of vocalist Hayley Mary, guitarist Samuel Lockwood, keyboardist Heather Shannon, and drummer Nik Kaloper, the Jezabels have crafted a stunningly impressive work that grabs you with melodic hooks, earnest passion, and propulsive rhythms. In some ways, the Jezabels' sound hasn't changed all that much from 2011's Prisoner; Mary's resonant, moody voice still takes center stage, framed by her band's gargantuan, urgent rock arrangements.
Review Summary: Getting into a consolidating groove… For better or worse.Witnessing The Jezabels live in concert during mid-2012 was an interesting experience. Having practically gone from local nobodies to worldwide stars in the matter of a heartbeat, the Australian indie-rockers seemed almost embarrassed to be headlining a show to a 5,000 strong audience. While a force to be reckoned with on stage, their setlist order craved immediate attention, while the lack of banter felt uncomfortable for all concerned.
The Jezabels' debut, Prisoner, came out in 2011, around the same time that fellow Aussies the Temper Trap had a huge, worldwide hit with their song Sweet Disposition. But leftfield-leaning pop music has evolved since then – something the Jezabels refuse to acknowledge. While the levels of melodrama here can feel suffocating at times ("What's the point in life?" singer Hayley Mary huffs on Beat to Beat), there's comfort to be found in The Brink's total disregard for subtlety or cool.
The Jezabels The Brink tempts me to perform the one cardinal sin of music reviewers and judge an album for what it isn’t, rather than for what it is. I’ll try not to give in, but the music on The Brink comes so close to connecting with this reviewer that I feel I’m letting it down by not meeting it halfway. You may feel differently, of course, but it’s the powerfully blended swirl of sound created by these talented musicians that ultimately scuttles the potential impact of these songs.
Despite a lack of international acclaim, Australian indie quartet The Jezabels have achieved a reasonable amount of success in their homeland since they formed in 2007. Early EPs The Man Is Dead and She So Hard, which were both released in 2009, gained significant airplay from numerous radio stations, with Triple J Unearthed even choosing them as a featured artist at the end of the same year. The momentum continued to build with the release of their debut album Prisoner late in 2011, which peaked at No.
Stars in their native Australia, where their debut album, Prisoner, peaked at No 2, the Jezabels are unlikely to find British audiences quite so willing to embrace their glossy power pop. For one thing, their reference points (Fleetwood Mac, PJ Harvey, U2) rarely coalesce, while singer Hayley Mary's voice is so dominant that it smothers most of the songs. Sporadically, as on the jabbing title track, the quartet hint at something more alluring, their energy affixed to stadium-size new wave.
'Intensindie'. This is how The Jezabels have chosen to label their vacuous blend of guitar-pop on social media. Hailing from Australia, with their second album this once-promising four-piece have reinvented themselves as masters of writing the kind of one dimensional dross that dominates your Top Shop/vain hipster emporium playlists year in year out.
The Jezabels built up a steady momentum in the latter years of the last decade. Since then they’ve broken the Australian mainstream quite emphatically, amassed a fair collection of ARIA Award nominations, and capped it all by winning the Australian Music Prize in 2011. The buzz around them in the British press reached a head early the same year, when they were labelled slightly left-of-the-middle of the road by the Guardian and filed unceremoniously alongside Florence and the Machine or, less favourably still, Paramore.