Wednesday, 26 March 2014

THE JEZABELS - The Brink


The release of new LP ‘The Brink’ later this month signals the return of Sydney-born rock band The Jezabels. And what a comeback it is; after a whirlwind success with their debut album Prisoner, the foursome has hit a new note with their second album of newfound guitar riffs and feistier drum rolls. Whilst the band’s previous album saw a more understated style of rock and roll, the upcoming collection basks in a Paramore-like vibe, upping the volume to give nostalgia and adventure a brand new voice.
Four talented Sydney University students cement the foundations of The Jezabels; joining lead vocalist Hayley Mary is Nik Kaloper on the drums, Sam Lockwood on guitar and Heather Shannon on keys. Since the group’s formation in 2007, their inventory has not gone unnoticed: the band has won various awards for their intimate artistry including ‘Best Independent Release’ at the 2012 ARIA music awards for Prisoner. The upcoming album is notably produced by Dan Grech-Marguerat, a catalyst for the success of artists including Radiohead and Lana Del Rey. Perhaps this is jinxing it, but after the release of ‘The Brink’ on February 17th, The Jezabels are sure to be in line for international success.  The band’s first single release is the boundless ‘Look of Love’, out on February 24th via Play It Again Sam. Labelled ‘irresistible’ by the Sunday Times, the track features leading lady Hayley Mary’s angelic vocals over a punchy rhythm and disarming synths. The bridge is so irritatingly catchy it leaves you humming for days. And, of course, the only remedy is to hear the song again….and again…and again. Yet catchy is not the focal point here; the real beauty of the track lies in its rugged emotion, mixed with an upbeat style. It seems The Jezabels are set to be a permanent name on the Indie pop band scene. Hayley Mary brands pop “the darkest music of all”, which signals The Jezabels’ dealings with the pop genre. Tracks of the album including title track ‘The Brink’, ‘Time to Dance’ and ‘The End’ most notably, reflect the darker sides of life in their gothic lyricism. ‘The Brink’ tells of a girl who ‘from her grave she could make a rockin’ roller of you’ whilst ‘Time to Dance’ tells a lonely tale of ‘drifting with my mental health’ and ‘the big bad world’. To top it all off, ‘The End’ verges on suicidal as Hayley sings ‘Is this the end of life worth living’. In the songstress’ own words, “if you look not at what pop artists are consciously doing but at what they’re reflecting about the world, pop is the most twisted, weird and scary stuff”. It is this skilful mergence of murkier imagery with crystal clear vocals which forms the unique sound of The Jezabels.

The ‘dark’ in the album comes from a very personal place, evident from its roots in the music. Hayley Mary has called writing “the self-deprecating, self-loathing stage”, since it distracts from the ecstasies of performance. ‘The Brink’ is refined by the reminiscent overcoming of these lows: “I felt like I was on the brink of a lot of things on this album…youth and age, alternative and pop, giving up and pushing through.  I guess hope is part of that. And also fear.” This paradoxical up and down existence is precisely what The Jezabels are all about. From the first few bars of album opener ‘The Brink’ to the final chords of the LP, The Jezabels accomplish a din of fearless melodies, embellished with a cutting combination of guitars, drums, and even violins in the arresting ‘All You Need’. Unrestrained by their youth, the band sing of innocence, love and politics with lyrics beyond their years in what Music Week defines as “Glorious sun-kissed pop”. In whichever genre you wish to place The Jezabels, one thing is for certain: the group share no concern for the modish or capricious; ‘The Brink’ is a timeless piece of blood, sweat and tears.

Words - Claudia Turnbull