It’s odd how life creates coincidences sometimes. Just as The Jezabels declared their album Synthia to be a concept-based work around feminine empowerment, one of their own demonstrated that quality outright as keyboardist Heather Shannon revealed she’d been living with ovarian cancer for the last few years. It has now led the band to cancel their world tour, but it came via a sentiment that seem to very much embody that strength the record aims to portray.
And portray that it does, for the most part. There’s no sacrifice at the altar of melody for the sake of maintaining the concept and, much as the title suggest, the synth-based rock style is immensely powerful. Take the humongous denouement of opener Stand and Deliver, for example. After a low-key, dreamlike beginning, it builds into one hell of a gut-wrench, fuck-the-patriarchy roar from Hayley Mary (“come and give a bitch a kiss”).
The furious pace of tracks like My Love Is My Disease recall another huge feminist record from last year – like Braids, The Jezabels play out their new record without reserving any emotion (or stopping themselves from the occasional and very pointed ‘fuck’). Unnatural takes down the double-standards of the world with an effective chorus, A Message From My Mothers Passed channels slow-tempo 80s dream-pop and spoken word for its quiet drama.
That drama is what propels Synthia into the higher range of the genre. The tunes and production are unfailingly huge – Pleasure Drive is an absolute stomp, even a ballad like Flowers In The Attic is bathed in high pathos. And where most acts take that bombast in favour of concept or intellect, The Jezabels balance it all and somehow manage to give zero fucks in the process. Feminism has never sounded so damn cinematic.