The Jezabels at Oslo Hackney
Through a bright mass of neon lights and deafening drums, indie four–piece The Jezabels enter the stage, a bristling crowd waiting expectantly beneath them. Since their formation in 2007 their alternative rock has carved them out a cult following in their native Australia where the band’s debut album Prisoner has been certified Gold.
Each member takes to their instruments with bold authority, but it is lead singer Hayley Mary who commands our attention. She gawks about the stage like a huge, black raven, her tiny frame shrouded in dark leather, feathery bob cutting her face into angular shapes and leather-clad arms flailing in big awkward movements as she dances. Mary’s husky, strident vocals have certainly filled Australia’s dearth of strong female singers. In her lower register her rasping tones channel Karan O and Stevie Nicks, while her high falsetto swoops have a bell-like clarity that quivers above the blurred throng of heavy sound.
Mary aside, the Sydney quartet, who have deliberately misspelt their biblical title, are your standard indie affair. Long Highway rolls along in peals of bright guitar and taut, staccato drums; Beat to Beat relies upon Heather Shannon’s chilling layers of blistering synth and A Little Piece pushes the tempo along with Nik Kaloper’ s punk-infused percussion. It’s not a perfect set: Mary spends most of the evening twiddling the wispy strands of her bob, looking at the ground; at times the pace is plodding and lacklustre, particularly in the unremarkable City Girl and disco-infused Look of Love. Despite Mary’s awkward charm, her strident falsetto often becomes piercing, No Country and Beat to Beat lack her usual crisp quality as her high-pitched squeals bleed into each other with a discordant ring.
Crowd-pleasers Dark Storm and Easy to Love brighten the proceedings with their rousing, anthemic choruses and brisk, stirring instrumentals, making up the set’s spirited high points, yet there is a niggling feeling that despite The Jezabels’ slick and quirky image they are at their core offering unremarkable music inherently lacking in originality.
Photo: Marcel van Leeuwen
For further information and future events visit The Jezabels’ website here.
Watch the video for Easy to Love here: