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The Jezabels

Written by Sally McMullen

They say good things come in threes, and it seems that The Jezabels new album Synthia is no exception. Following the release of Prisoner in 2013 and The Brink n 2014, their latest masterpiece is an explosion of synth indie pop that explores ideas of sex, gender and identity.

While their previous albums have been shrouded in mystery and romantic concepts, Synthia is The Jezabels stripped back without losing their theatrical quality. Opening with Stand and Deliver, the almost eight-minute long epic sets a standard for the sonic fluidity that flows through the remainder of the album. Blooming with ethereal-sounding synth and a monologue courtesy of Edie Sedgwick from Andy Warhol’s art film Poor Little Rich Girl, the song quickly transcends into a grimier place. “Come and give a bitch a kiss,” lures frontwoman Hayley Mary as electronic keynotes swell.

Next up, My Love is a Disease explores the polarity of relationships, underlined by layers of electronic glitches and topped off with a monster chorus. Sung with such sorrow, it’s difficult to tell if the lyrical laments are sincere or sarcastic.

While Australian music and rock n roll in general remains a male-dominated industry, The Jezabels take Synthia as an opportunity to bring the female voice to the centre of the conversation. This is especially true in the blazing gun of a track Smile. An anthem for women everywhere, the song is driven by the ancient feminist proverb: “Don’t tell me to smile, don’t ask why I frown”. Meanwhile, the mixed bag structure of the album sees Unnatural flow by on heavenly melodies, while the harrowing A Message From My Mothers Passed relies on a trembling, yet sharp falsetto.

As we approach the centre of the album, Come Alive swerves into darker territory again, with grimy guitar riffs and bubbling synth that wouldn’t sound out of place in a retro video game.  

Pleasure Drive, on the other hand, oozes undeniable sex appeal. “I’ve got a six six baby, all I need is one more number and I’ll make you mine”, croons Hayley menacingly over gurgling electronic beats and a bone-shaking bass line. In contrast, Flowers In The Attic borders on a ballad as Hayley’s vocals soar over symphonic strings.

If Ya Want Me is another fireball of sonic sass that cuts through the crap of playing games. “You can always find another girl,” spits Hayley with moody defiance as the album nears its end. Coming full circle, Synthia closes with Stamina, another seven-minute drama that tells a story of rippling guitar riffs, a crescendo of powerful drums, deep bass and echoing vocals.

Synthia is an overwhelming wave of diverse genres, sounds and thematic conversations in the best way possible. Created almost on a whim in 2015 following a brief break, it appears that spontaneity and a lack of pressure agrees well with the wunderkinds.

Unfortunately, it might be some time before you hear Synthia come to life on the stage. Just weeks before the release of the new album, the quartet confirmed the sad news that their world tour has been cancelled to allow keyboardist Heather Shannon to receive treatment for returned ovarian cancer. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that Heather makes a speedy recovery and that she’ll be bewitching us with a live rendition of her keyboard wizardry in no time.

“What’s a girl to do, standing in the spotlight?” asks Hayley in Synthia. A fair question and something The Jezabels better hope they have a good answer for when this absolute cracker of an album is unleashed on February 12.

‘Synthia’ is out February 12, grab a pre-order here.

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