The worst thing about your favorite band being from/residing in a country other than yours is that their album comes out way later in your country than it does where they are. So all of your Australian friends get to listen to it, but you’re stuck in America, waiting and waiting because they’re your favorite band, you can’t just pirate that shit! This is exactly how I felt about the Jezabels’ new album The Brink when I saw that the release date was nearly a month later in America. But it was well worth the wait.
I first fell in love with the Jezabels right around when the She’s So Hard EP came out in 2009. To cement you in time, Party in the U.S.A. had just gotten huge and that’s all I wanted to listen to in the car, but my girlfriend would. not. stop playing The Jezabels as we drove up and down the Queensland coast. That’s not usually a perfect recipe for how you become seriously attached to a band, let me warn you, but it worked out for me. When Prisoner came out, I somehow convinced my girlfriend to take me to see them live literally three times because I’m ridiculous. So if I seem biased for this review, I apologize.
The Jezabels are a four piece band from Sydney, Australia consisting of Hayley Mary on lead vocals (you may recognize Hayley as 76 from our Alternative Hot 100), Heather Shannon on keyboard, Samuel Lockwood on lead guitar and Nik Kaloper on drums. The Brink is their second full-length album and definitely their best work yet.
The Jezabels have a heavy, dramatic, dreamy sound, which they’ve described as intensindie. That’s the best description I’ve ever heard. Their first single off the album, “The End” is the perfect example of the sound of this album (and their entire existence, in my opinion): incredible range of vocals, heavy but not intrusive drumming, catchy guitar.
The quintessential dreaminess of their music is so prominent on this album, I think it’s my favorite thing they’ve put out so far. Some songs like “The Look of Love” and “No Country” feel like a refreshing update to their typical sound, but other songs have a completely new feeling, like the ethereal “Psychotherapy” or the heavy synths in “Beat to Beat.” There’s a lot of dark tones in this album, but Hayley Mary’s damn-near angelic voice saves it from being an album that’s going to make you wallow in self-pity like a lot of heavy albums tend to do.
It took me two listens to love this album completely. I still have no idea what Hayley Mary is singing about in most of these songs, to tell you the truth. But that’s pretty typical for the Jezabels, so I’m not too worried about it. And I’m pretty much a fan of any band that makes a W.B. Yeats reference in a song.
I’d definitely recommend this album as an introduction to the Jezabels but also as a great addition to any Jezzie fan’s collection. It feels polished and marks a point in the band’s career where they seem really confident in their sound and style. I just tried to list out my favorite songs or recommendations for a first listen, and I honestly started listing every song (start with the two singles above, they’re a great intro!). The Brink is definitely a solid album from a great band.
Remember that time they played here in Denver and I went with y’all even though I hadn’t heard of them? That was a good choice. I love them now and am so happy I got to see them at that tiny dive.
Wow, I didn’t know they had a new album out. Thanks for the heads up!
Have seen the jezabels SEVEN times. so much love, but not really keen for this album, it feels too monotonous? Not dancey enough? I don’t know, but it doesn’t feel like old school jezabels.
Has Hayley ever publically acknowledged her queerness? I can’t find anything that says she has.
Also, I saw them at this year’s Laneway Festival in Melbourne and she wore leather pants. That was nice.
YES! A million times yes. My girlfriend introduced me to the Jezabels when we first met and I listened to them so much back then that they feel so intrinsically linked to my relationship with her, and my queerness more generally (first lady-love, all the lightbulbs etc.)
I was super lucky to be able to see them at Laneway Festival in Fremantle last month and fell in love with them even harder, Hayley is like some kind of spooky goddess.
Love the Jezabels, HATE The End! And would not consider The Brink their best work, not by a long shot, can only stand half of the songs on that album. Missing the depth I’ve come to expect from them. Well, differing opinions, glad to see them being covered. They got me hooked by Mace Spray, I’d consider that a good starting point. Complex and poignant but not overwhelming for those not used to their sound.
I saw their very first show back in the day and I used to watch them play at Manning Bar at Sydney Uni. It’s been amazing to watch them become known internationally and to see them making a name for themselves!
I couldn’t possibly love a band or an album more. Thank you for covering this.
Autostraddle introduced me to The Jezabels and when I saw them play in San Diego in 2012 I actually sang and danced with Hayley live on stage! It’s a long story about how I got there but needless to say it was the pinnacle of my live music watching experiences.
I love The Jezables music and I feel like this album really solidfies how well each band member and their instruments work together. I also LOVE Hayley’s vocals and lyrics. She is, by far, one of my favorite lyricists. Her lyrics are different for sure, but I just get her for some reason.
I also had to listen twice through before fully engaging with this album but once that happened I couldn’t stop listening. It brings me immense joy.
“or the heavy synths in “Beat to Beat.” I love this song and agree that Heather’s synths are amazing and new.
Anyway, I’m gushing. Thanks to AS for introducing me to one of my favorite bands and thanks to you for writing this review.
I completely agree. I’m constantly gushing about The Jezabels. After several decades of my favorite band being U2 (and I’ve been a music fan since the 60s), The Jezabels took over as my favorite band. I consider 3 albums-worth of original music (and their 2 full-length albums and 4 EPs qualify them, IMO) enough of a sample to know how I feel about a band. And they touch me like no other.
Did everyone catch their fantastic performance of their live streaming Opera House performance the other day? Spine tingling.
I feel like I’m their sole marketing department in the USA. I’ve been trying in vain to get them played on Sirius XM’s AltNation for the first time in a couple of years. They just won’t bite.