Over the past few years, Australia’s The Jezabels have flawlessly blended indie rock and electronic music together. Not many bands are able to do that, let alone consistently make great music on two albums. Safe to say, they continue that on their newest album, Synthia, released today on Dine Alone Records.
The album is a constantly changing landscape of slow, flickering ballads to upeat rock anthems, taking the listener on a joyride of musical mastery. The record starts off with a very faint synth line, that builds into the almost 8-minute long “Stand and Deliver”. Hayley Mary’s voice is dragged into the song using echoing effects, speak-singing the opening lyrics about wanting to return to a past she no longer has. The rest of the band (Nik Kaloper on drums, Samuel Lockwood on guitars and Heather Shannon on keyboards) build up to a point of a noise wall that crumbles down to Hayley breaking into the familiar power-house range of vocals Jezabels’ fans are used to. Needless to say, they have definitely stood up and delivered.
The album continues on into “My Love is My Disease”. Nik’s quick drumming keeps the song moving along at a fast pace, never letting the listener catch their breath. The emphasis on hard-hitting rock and swelling choruses in this song is a throwback to their debut Prisoner, showing how they have been able to blend more synths over the past few years, while still being able to go back to their roots.
“Smile” is up next, with Hayley singing in a lower register, making the song sound like she is right beside you. The guitar lines by Samuel make a great counter melody to the vocals and grows into a strong chorus, especially later on in the song, when Hayley admits “Don’t tell me to smile. If you don’t know me, brother, don’t tell me to smile. Don’t ask why I frown. don’t tell me to smile, so you know I just buried my mother.”
The upbeat instrumentation with dark lyrical content continues with “Unnatural”. It starts with an awesome synth line by Heather and is joined by heavy hitting drums, completely contrasted by the lyrics, talking about the artificial world we live in and commercialism.
Suddenly there are kids talking behind a repeating synth note; this is the beginning to “A Message From My Mothers Passed”. It’s a slower song, where the listener is slow jamming with the band, rather than rocking out, even with the little bursts of energy and rising vocals throughout the song.
The mood suddenly changed to a drum and low guitar based track, “Come Alive”, which is the first single from Synthia. The ominous feeling of the song takes the album to a whole new area of synth-rock, with glimmers of hope in the choruses. The song suddenly goes full throttle around 3:30, where everyone rocks out hard.
The upbeat feel comes back with the dance-inspired “Pleasure Drive”, which is a lot lighter in instrumentation than the previous track. This is the second single from the album, giving the listener, be it a hardcore fan or first-timer, a great view of the range of music that The Jezabels make.
Acoustic instruments pop in every now and again, like the piano taking the place of synths in the next song “Flowers in the Attic”. This rock song is a break from the heaviness of the past few, bringing in more of a feel from their last album The Brink. This is definitely a song that you can picture yourself listening to while driving in the summer, along with many songs from their other albums.
The heaviness returns with a heavy drum beat right off the bat in “If Ya Want Me”. This is the extreme of mixing dance and rock together; it can be either viewed as a dark dance track or a upbeat rock song. Either way, it’s fantastic, giving the band a chance to burst out and go for their all. I would not be surprised if this was their next single.
The album, that has taken the listener on a roller-coaster of sounds and emotions, comes to a close with “Stamina”. It is a mellow end to Synthia, showcasing how amazing Hayley’s voice is, by pairing it with subdued instrumentation.
This album is a powerhouse. I have been looking forward to new music from these guys and they have definitely delivered beyond my expectations. On a more serious note, The Jezabels have had to postpone their world tour in support of Synthia, due to Heather’s much-needed treatment for ovarian cancer. We at the Indie Blender wish Heather a speedy recovery and will wait patiently for the Jezabels to return to the music scene. All out best, Heather.