Album review: The Jezabels – Synthia

The Jezabels - Synthia

The Jezabels - Synthia - Credit: Archant

The Australian four piece are back on form with their soaring, synth-inspired third record, writes Alex Bellotti.

The last few years have tested The Jezabels. After winning the Australian Music Prize for their 2011 debut, Prisoner, lead singer Hayley Mary admitted to suffering from second album syndrome on stuttering follow-up The Brink. Around the same time, keyboardist Heather Shannon was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and in recent weeks her condition has become so serious that the four-piece have had to cancel their latest tour.

If there is a shred of comfort to be had, it is that their third record is a triumphant return to form. One reason is Shannon, who – as the title suggests – brought a new trolley of synths to rehearsals and has used them to lift the band’s penchant for melodramatic indie rock to even greater heights.

The broody, pulsating pace-setter Smile suggests Mary has found her focus too. ‘Don’t tell me to smile if you don’t know me,’ she sings, and the record is peppered by sharp takes on gender and identity.

Come Alive is a operatic mix of sweet, building melodies and thunderous metal, while Pleasure Drive goes back to the ‘80s with some sassy electro riffage before gloriously shifting into a defiant, Cocteau Twins-esque chorus.

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A little more variation would be welcome – the soundscapes of opener Stand and Deliver is as experimental as it gets – but the quality of songwriting will see them through any complaints.

Rating: 4/5

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