It’s been a while since I put anything up here, I was going to do a review for the last few episodes of Thrones, but, I was shocked, utterly shocked at the poor writing, so I’m going to not even bother with that, let’s focus on something positive.
For those of you not in Australia, you may not know who the Jezabels are, you may, I’m not familiar with their popularity overseas. Here in Australia they’re pretty big, and the music quality is consistently amazing (I may be biased). I’m just going to talk briefly to whoever cares to listen about their most recent record, Synthia, specifically the final track, Stamina.
So for a start, I’m the kind of guy who loves albums that have great flow, I guess I’m old fashioned in that way, some of my favourite records growing up were The Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd, and Achtung Baby by U2, each of these records had fantastic flow, with not a single track that felt out of place. It’s no different here with Synthia. I’ve heard a lot of great records over the past few years, but so few have satisfied the album flow craving. Synthia has all the right songs in the right places, it shifts gears exactly when you want it to do so. Beginning with a slow build, seven-minute epic Stand and Deliver, is a bold start, something like what Pink Floyd would do with the likes of Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Any other band who wanted to play it safe would go for the second track, My Love is My Disease, as the opener, a high octane rock song. Other great moments in this record is the “second coming” so to speak, which I think is crucial for a record to have great flow. After the heavily syncopated Come Alive, and the softer ballad A Message from My Mother’s Past, I was craving a groovy, straight rhythm, ‘banger’, as we say in Australia. Pleasure Drive (apt name), provides a second peak for the album. I can’t tell you how annoying I find it, when a band front-loads their records with all of the high energy singles and let the second half die, Synthia does not do this, it’s strong all the way through.
So we come to the end of the record, we get a breathtaking ballad Flowers in the Attic, and are now expecting the record to wrap up, not this album. You’re hit with the fastest, highest energy song on the album in the penultimate slot, If Ya Want Me, a ‘banger’ if there ever was one. What I really want to talk about though is the final track, Stamina. Two things that really stick with me from my music degree is, the song writing master, Pat Pattison, saying in his strong American accent “prosody”, and functional harmony, something that’s sorely missing in much music these days. Stamina, like the opener is a seven-minute epic, slow build, beginning with nothing but clean strums of a guitar and vocals, and finishing with a wall of sound. The slow tempo at the beginning picks up towards the final third of the song, almost like a three-act story, it picks up in the exact right place. This song is not to short, or too long, it’s practically perfect. The lyrics are heartfelt, filled with memorable lines like “I yearn to speak with nothing protecting me”, and “It ain’t even hope, but that can help I suppose”. As the drums kick in and the repeated line “stamina, stamina, stamina”, later replaced by “rev it up, rev it up, rev it up”, evoking an engine, going the distance, having the stamina to do so. “Won’t go home”, I’m going to keep going until I can’t go any longer, “lose control”. The final moments of the song are genius, striking the dominant 7th chord over and over, building up as much musical tension as you could possibly make, emphasising the 7th, the A note, in a descending counter-melody, the beautiful tension is craving to be resolved, but it won’t just yet, it sits on the one chord for a while before finally providing the musical catharsis that makes this song complete, and bookends the album in the best way possible, resolving to a droning E major chord, finishing on the perfect cadence, swirling around as the album fades out.
Now I’ve certainly talked up the song, and the album quite a bit, for any people who care to read my therapeutic writing, don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself, it’s a cracking record that deserves more attention than what it received.