The Jezabels: Prisoner (MGM/Southbound)

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The Jezabels: Nobody Nowhere
The Jezabels: Prisoner (MGM/Southbound)

This Sydney quartet certainly get great cover art, a thrilling wide-screen production from Lachlan Mitchell (and courtesy of Peter Katis who mixed the National) and the kind of high-concept dramatics (and melodrama) you would normally associate with early Eighties bands like Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen.

What saves this from being another run at Simple Minds/Echo et al is the presence of singer Hayley Mary who can turn out leather-lunged AOR belting, do a handbrake turn to become the top end of Kate Bush or get right there where Heart's emoting-meets-U2 bombast.

For a debut album it is certainly ambitious in that it aims for the stadium crowd, but that of course places it immediately at an emotional distance and songs like Long Highway want to take you to the top rung of the ladder before you even knew there was a climb ahead.

The strident drums certainly pull you in but material like the shoulda-been radio ballad Trycolour is overwhelmed by the urgency and drama when it might have been left to breathe a little more because Mary could carry this by herself.

That is a drawback throughout and the overall impression -- aside from the familiarity of some elements like The Edge's guitar chime, Stevie Nicks and the Pretenders in the record collection etc --  is this aims for the top too often for its own good.

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