For the past five years The Jezabels have kept me spellbound. Three of the four band members grew from the soil and sun of Byron Bay. The planet has now adopted The Jezabels. When you research and connect with a band you become emotionally attached. So when the world discovered that Heather Shannon had been dealing with ovarian cancer, like her fans and those in the music industry, I became saddened by the news. Way too young! The Jezabels had just released their new album Synthia, and though they were already aware of Heather’s needs, it must have been challenging, not only in the care and worry for Heather, but in also having to announce that they had to cancel their world tour of Synthia.
The Northern Rivers community sends our strength on the wind to you Heather and family.
In February, Synthia was Triple J’s Album of the Week. I wrote to the band suggesting that they had married the ambient with the darkwave beautifully. The Jezabels themselves state: “Synthia plays like a widescreen heroine’s journey in 10 parts. An album that brings a very personal truth about how it feels to be a woman. An album worthy of celebration.” The voice behind The Jezabels, Hayley Mary: “ Previously I have shrouded myself a lot in mystery and the language of romanticism; played roles and stuff which reflected some kind of truth about how I felt as a woman.” It’s little wonder cultured folk are so besotted with her dynamics.
This album is perhaps their heaviest, but the power chords are tamed within the mix allowing Heather’s keyboards to lead the way. Samuel Lockwood’s guitar-fills now slimmer, Nik Kaloper’s drumming remains energetic. Synthia opens upon dream- nostalgia with language reminiscing of somewhere early 20th Century. The second song My love is my disease sits more within the punk end of the Goth spectrum, tis very edgy! Hayley Mary is my favourite female singer. When I hear her high notes and streetwise assertions, I am but a child in her shadow. Especially in songs like Come Alive. The film clip to this song is brilliant, the special animated effects a wonderment. It is hard to unravel Hayley’s lyrics; she is very intelligent in the way she holds herself. This woman always keeps us guessing, good! Yet society’s control of womanhood through the eons, the fear draped at the sodden floor to the mystery of feminine strengths, where it is easier to burn one at the stake than to reap the benefits of earthly wisdom, is clear in my mind however. Anyway, the song’s witch-dame-in-distress wins in the end, and serenity in new life aqua-relinquished.
There are exciting Curve-like sonic explosions; in songs like Unnatural Enya. In Smile Azam Ali seemingly bell-bird-chimes “ Don’t ” ! That being said, The Jezabels have produced a sound that is their own. When Hayley begins a song in calm it usually ends in energetic mayhem. Even within the more mainstream sounding songs like Flowers in the attic they still manage to invest in a touch of the exotic. Synthia has many sounds and emotions, it is very addictive. One thing that runs through the veins of all their work is the desire to reveal the scar tissue of Time. A new sound, yes, and an exciting journey via thoughts and emotions…. “I’m a showstopper, baby, and I’m born to be so unnatural!”
by Ian Browne