Thursday 20 March 2014

The Jezabels - The Brink

Album review by

After forming back in 2007, Aussies The Jezabels have gone on to be big news in their homeland, with both of their albums hitting number two in the charts. But somehow this success hasn't been repeated in the UK yet. Released a few weeks after it hit the Australian market, their second full-length was actually recorded in London, and the band have begun to make more progress in this country, although it pales in comparison to the award nominations and victories they've scored down under. So what gives? Why haven't we embraced them in the same way in the UK? If you have an answer then you're a smarter person than me. My only guess it that because our charts are overrun with the same handful of big US popstars with Pitbull guest-spots that they just don't get the coverage.

You'd have to say that if they maintain this standard then their time will surely come. Comparable in style to bands like Metric or Howling Bells, 'The Brink' is one of those albums where every track could be a single. There is variation, and some songs will appeal to certain tastes more than others, but as a complete body of work this is quite seismic. The band hold nothing back and the production is like injecting each song with whatever Lance Armstrong was on; they make the very most of every asset they have without crossing the line. Be it alt-rock with electro leanings as found on 'Look Of Love' and the poppier electro-indie of 'Beat To Beat, or the powerful and emotive likes of the title-track, 'Got Velvet' and especially the tender 'Psychotherapy'; they don't miss a trick. With the depth of sound and their willingness to embrace different techniques you can even find echoes of the more commercial School Of Seven Bells tracks. You get no half measures here. These are big songs.

It can be a challenge to borrow from '80s rock and still sound good, but it's no problem for these guys, as we quickly find out on 'Time To Dance'. They allow a little more thoughtfulness to creep into 'Angels Of Fire', a song that finds them "getting old and bitter"; they did make it clear this album comes from a darker place than past material, although it's hardly a load of moping, gloomy tunes. The vocals soar and pull the song up high with them. "I've got a Cold War fascination" is another sign of something darker below the surface, especially as it's delivered on love song 'No Country', and more less-than-happy lyrics are scattered throughout. Single 'The End' is still a towering highlight and a must for anyone new to the band: make this your first port of call and you won't be let down. One running theme is just how personal the lyrics appear to be, and singer Hayley Mary has openly admitted that the challenge of following up a successful debut in a different location with a different producer was a challenge, but it was one they overcame with seeming ease. Nothing feels forced in the slightest. By the time you reach pensive yet epic finale 'All You Need' you can be in little doubt. The Jezabels deserve a break here, and a big one. At the moment, Australia has a secret. Please let that no longer be the case.

The Jezabels' website

Buy the album

Catch them live:

Mar 20 GEBAUDE 9, Cologne, Germany  
Mar 26 El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles, CA
Mar 29 Rickshaw Stop, San Francisco, CA
Mar 31 Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR
Apr 01 Neumos, Seattle, WA  
Apr 02 Imperial, Vancouver, Canada
Apr 04 The Starlite Room, Edmonton, Canada
Apr 05 Republik, Calgary, Canada
Apr 07 7th Street Entry, Minneapolis, MN  
Apr 10 Lee's Palace, Toronto, Canada
Apr 12 Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA
Apr 15 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
Apr 16 Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia, PA
Apr 17 Rock & Roll Hotel, Washington, DC
Apr 25 Oakbank Racecourse, Oakbank, Australia
Apr 26 Maitland Showground, Maitland, Australia
Apr 27 The Meadows, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australia
Apr 28 Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Apr 29 Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
May 02 Palais Theatre, St Kilda Vic, Australia
May 03 Prince of Wales Showground, Bendigo, Australia
May 04 Murray Sports Complex, Townsville, Australia
May 06 The Tivoli, Brisbane, Australia
May 09 Astor Theatre, Mount Lawley Wa, Australia
May 10 Hay Park, Bunbury, Australia
Jul 17 Deichbrand Festival, Cuxhaven, Germany
Jul 18 Tollhaus, Karlsruhe, Germany

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