Recording information: Strong Room Studios, London; The Engine Room, London; The Pool & The Square, London.
The Jezabels' sophomore full-length album, 2014's The Brink, finds the acclaimed Australian rock outfit fleshing out their dramatic synth rock sound with aid of expert producer Dan Grech-Marguerat (Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, Hurts). Once again showcasing the talents of vocalist Hayley Mary, guitarist Samuel Lockwood, keyboardist Heather Shannon, and drummer Nik Kaloper, the Jezabels have crafted a stunningly impressive work that grabs you with melodic hooks, earnest passion, and propulsive rhythms. In some ways, the Jezabels' sound hasn't changed all that much from 2011's Prisoner; Mary's resonant, moody voice still takes center stage, framed by her band's gargantuan, urgent rock arrangements. In fact, if Prisoner positioned them as a kind of female-fronted Killers, then The Brink takes the comparison further with the Jezabels balancing their '80s synth rock sound with a hint of Bruce Springsteen-esque heartland rock, much as the Killers did on Sam's Town. Just as Brandon Flowers' lyrics took an even more personal tone with Sam's Town (ruminating on his hometown of Las Vegas), so do Mary's lyrics seem to take on even more of a personal, intimate slant. Already a literate, thoughtful frontwoman, on The Brink Mary also reveals herself to be one with strong physical desires to match her strong sense of self. On the dynamic "Look of Love," she sings "You got me lit up with the look of love/I could take you, in a pickup truck/Like I'm joking, but I'm talking roughly the truth/My heart's sinkin' when I see those eyes/And I wonder, what it would be like/And I think of every frickin' chance that I blew." And later, "I'm gonna lick it like sugar, lord/Then I'll choke you, think I'm not that sort?/Well I could be; I could be so happy with you." Mary's revelatory, palpable desire and seemingly newfound strength permeate all of The Brink, leaving you with an impression of the Jezabels as a band that's (in spirit) one part singer/songwriter, one part stadium rock god, and, ultimately, all woman. As Mary sings on the title cut, "That's just a girl that I describe/She isn't real; she is no one/But from the grave, she could make a rock 'n' roller of you, son." ~ Matt Collar
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