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Album Review: The Jezabels - Synthia

5 February 2016 | 2:42 pm | Liz Giuffre

"Synthia's not only a girl's name but a musical description, given the way space is created and explored on the album."

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"Don't tell me to smile if you don't know me, brother," sings Hayley Mary three tracks into Synthia.

The song, Smile, has an epic '80s sound but it isn't a throwback by any stretch. "Don't tell me to smile, I'll take you down," she continues. Ooooh, it's good! I like to think Synthia's not only a girl's name but a musical description, given the way space is created and explored on the album. A real synth masterpiece sets off Unnatural, again with its influence clear, but moving far beyond to interesting new territory. It's so nice to have music history revisited that isn't just about boys and guitars, but also moves and sways.

Singles Come Alive and Pleasure Drive have just the right amount of space to draw you away from what you're doing and towards a speaker, but there's plenty more here to warrant some dedicated listening time rather than a 'set and forget' approach. If Ya Want Me also rewards handsomely, and closer Stamina echoes around with a lightness of touch and sentimentality that doesn't seem to make it into ballads much anymore. Hang on for the break about mid-way in the seven-minute track too, though — it's not a like a dramatic Bohemian Rhapsody/Paranoid Android mini-epic, but it still keeps you guessing as to which bit you like more and why.

This third album by The Jezabels is a ten-track trip, indeed. There's an undeniable gendered edge, but by no means is it exclusive. Just some bloody interesting sounds done bloody nicely indeed.

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