Goth- tinged rock­ers don’t dis­ap­point

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Music - JAR­RAD BE­VAN The Jez­abels will per­form at Launce­s­ton’s Sa­loon Bar ( Oct 8); Ho­bart’s Wrest Point Show­room ( Oct 9).

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.

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