Goth- tinged rockers don’t disappoint
AFTER a tantric build-up, The Jezabels have finally released their debut album.
This fearsome four-piece – Hayley Mary ( vocals), Heather Shannon ( piano), Nik Kaloper ( drums) and Samuel Lockwood ( guitar) – have built a deafening buzz with a string of three EPs and tireless tours.
The wait for Prisoner was well worth the effort. It is every bit as dramatic, epic and accomplished as their fans no doubt anticipated.
Most of the album’s front end features urgent, elegant, cinematic and heavy sounds. There’s cascading, textural guitars and angular, aggressive postpunk riffs, stadium-sized echoing piano lines, thunderclap drums and Mary striving to place her vocals somewhere above the din.
Later on, the record takes a turn down a quieter, softer road, with an impressive closing set of four delicate songs.
If nothing else, Prisoner is a wellcrafted, smart album. It can be ferocious and commanding as well as poetic and emotionally pure. This is a band in control of its skills. Even when a song sounds like it might be spiralling out of control, The Jezabels always have a tight grip on the reins.
Usually the absence of a bass player creates problems for bands, whether they like to admit it or not. For this act, it goes completely unnoticed.
Prisoner opens with its namesake, a shock of brooding cathedral organs and a rush of free-flowing, jazzy drums. It’s an intense almost exhausting few minutes, and a cracking way to set the tone with some goth-tinged rock ’ n’ roll. A sunburnt single comes next in
Endless Summer, a Triple J favourite and solid highlight that helped the band draw one of the biggest crowds at the recent Splendour in the Grass festival.
A bunch of tunes showcase Mary’s untroubled, effortless and powerful vocal abilities – from the ballad Long Highway, on which she turns on an earnest honesty, to Try Colour, where she is more insistent, to the gritty and nasty
Nobody Nowhere. Tranquil instrumental piece Austerlitz shows off yet another side of The Jezabels’ personality.
They can turn their hands to any style . . . so they do. Although concise and focused as a whole, each of the songs on this album stands alone as a separate piece. Yet they are all a vital part of the puzzle, too.