The Jezabels
The Brink


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
February 17th, 2014 | 158 replies | 6,349 views


Release Date: 02/17/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Getting into a consolidating groove… For better or worse.

Witnessing The Jezabels live in concert during mid-2012 was an interesting experience. Having practically gone from local nobodies to worldwide stars in the matter of a heartbeat, the Australian indie-rockers seemed almost embarrassed to be headlining a show to a 5,000 strong audience. While a force to be reckoned with on stage, their setlist order craved immediate attention, while the lack of banter felt uncomfortable for all concerned. The by-product of three acclaimed EPs and superb debut LP ‘Prisoner’; the greater attention given to The Jezabels was always going to bring about a fascinating reaction. Would their follow-up release look to take over the world by stretching their soaring stadium-sized sound even further, or would the quartet retreat into their introverted shells for the sake of consolidative comfort? On ‘The Brink’, the latter is closer to the truth, although this Dan Grech-Marguerat produced album is far from an MGMT-like transformation.

While the tours would have come too late in proceedings to strongly influence ‘The Brink’, the record does appear to have taken inspiration from two support slots The Jezabels performed in November of 2013: for The Pixies and Depeche Mode. Best exemplified by its opening title track and propulsive lead single ‘The End’, swathes of sweeping synthesizers add even more dense layers to the band’s sound, while Nik Kaloper’s insistent drums and Sam Lockwood’s Edge-like guitars lock into a muscular groove that builds momentum for a satisfying slow-kill. Meanwhile, out front, Hayley Mary’s versatile vocal range is as expressive, enchanting & seductive as ever. Unlike previous releases however, the major concern for The Jezabels is that ‘The Brink’ either overdoes this formula, or struggles when veering away from it. Those insistent drums soon become incessant, while a slow-kill doesn’t necessarily work when it builds up to a climax that never really eventuates.

With each of their captivating previous releases continuing to grow their sound by seamlessly exploring new visions, nuances and boundaries, many will feel that the increased reliance on Heather Shannon’s synths result in the quartet’s poppiest and most playful record to date. The title of ‘Time to Dance’ speaks for itself, while ‘Look of Love’ and ‘Beat to Beat’ unabashedly display their retro ‘80s influences. Unfortunately, these synth(bordering on electro)-pop leanings do not suit the band - to the point where The Jezabels’ pop nous was exhibited more proficiently when they were simply rocking out. Another slightly grating issue with these tunes is Mary using her higher register for the majority of their running times. It’s an ill-fitting decision which is as baffling as Mary’s always cryptic lyrics, that even include awkward references to “Beyonce” and “Tupac”.

In promoting ‘The Brink”, Mary has been quoted as saying “We were facing the second album thing, which is a cliché, but straight-up true". If any band had laid the groundwork to overcome the so-called “sophomore slump”, then it would be The Jezabels, since their constant evolution through three EPs and an LP was quite astonishing. In fairness, there is nothing approaching awful here and the quartet are undoubtedly a victim of their already superlative discography. Unlike predecessor ‘Prisoner’, however, the tracks which come closest to being considered filler, don’t do a great deal to enhance the overall listening experience. 'The Brink' is less immediate than all of the band's prior releases and is indeed a grower when given time to settle. What it does lack is a certain excitement, whether it be individual moments, entire songs or even future potential. Whereas previously The Jezabels were on the edge of super-stardom, it is now a little more uncertain just what they are on the brink of.

Recommended Tracks: The End, The Brink, Time to Dance & Got Velvet.




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user ratings (64)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
RetrogradeMars (4.5)
Drowning never felt so good the first time out, but floating atop the waves feels just as nice....


Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Damn you Jezabels, why must your albums be so difficult to review!?

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



10258 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

excellent

Digging: The Bilinda Butchers - Heaven

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent = 4. So you think it worthy of a 4, Rudy?

theacademy
February 17th 2014



28258 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

davey r u friends with atavanhalen off of sputnik? ask him on fb what he thinks of this


ABjordanMM
February 17th 2014



1361 Comments


Good stuff daveyboy. Hoping to enjoy this.

theacademy
February 17th 2014



28258 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

worldwide stars


bit of a stretch, haha

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haha. Good ol' Atavan. He's held a grudge against The Jezabels since day dot. Pretty certain they knocked back an interview - or support slot - request from him.

And fair call on the "worldwide stars" comment. I guess it's all relative. It's like asking if The National are "worldwide stars". In certain circles, they are.

Thanks AB. It feels underwhelming on 1st listen, but it does deserve the chance to grow. Now that I think about it, it kind of feels like a debut.

theacademy
February 17th 2014



28258 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

oh man i aallwayss wondered why he hated on them so hard lol

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2014



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

a slow-kill doesn’t necessarily work when it builds up to a climax that never really eventuates

Brilliant review Davey. That sentence sums the record up perfectly for me. There's plenty of slow builds and epic soundscapes, but too many of them equate to little but hot air. That said, I'm close to upping it to a 3.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well, I made that up Academy... But it wouldn't surprise me. Either way, I'm certain he will think that he has been proven correct with the amount of mixed to negatove reviews this album has been receiving.

Thanks heaps Ali. Hope you've been well mate & are enjoying the battle for 8th. And yeah, I love the band's build-ups, but they too often go nowhere here. It works on the opener really well (to the point I'm unsure they should have placed it as the opener), but they just fall flat elsewhere.

Willie
Moderator
February 17th 2014



15887 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Good review. Still excited to hear this.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am really keen to hear what you think Trey... Especially that higher vocal register that I speak of in the review. I much prefer when Hayley only brings that out come chorus time. It adds that certain excitement which is missing too often on this record.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2014



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ha! I'd rather Southampton got it to be honest... at least they're playing like they want it...

I quite like Beat to Beat. I know you single them out for criticism but the vocals are the saving grace here, for me.

tommygun
February 17th 2014



23618 Comments


very nice review davey

couldn't get into this as much as the earlier stuff but still owe it a few more listens

Digging: Obliteration - Black Death Horizon

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
February 17th 2014



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'd rather that too Ali. Hehe. Did your mob really rely on Cabaye that much?

I'll be honest: 'Beat to Beat' grew on me a little. It took quite some time though. The vocals overall are still a trength, no doubt. But the songs where Hayley sings in that higher register of hers during the verses grate on me a little.

Thanks Tommy. Totally agree with you.


avonbarksdale221
February 17th 2014



8073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Downloading this now. The End was basically Endless Summer lite and based on the critical reception my expectations aren't particularly high, but hopefully I'm surprised. Nice review DB.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
February 17th 2014



7314 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

He was our heartbeat on and off the pitch. Everything positive went through him, and we've spent the past two years looking in his phone book for transfer targets. We got a fair price for him, but the rest of this season is pretty much a write-off.

tommygun
February 17th 2014



23618 Comments


agreed hard re higher register too, does grate a bit in verses

best left for when shit needs escalating (second chorus of mace spray is a prime example)

RetrogradeMars
February 17th 2014



9 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love this one, not more than Prisoner, but it's great to see what else the band is capable of.

Nice review.

avonbarksdale221
February 17th 2014



8073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

can't see them ever topping mace spray.



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