To understand this review, you should know that I believe I am complimenting the Jezabels when I say that their vocals sound like Natalie Merchant. The thing about pop music is that we all agree how it sounds. Whether that sound is good, however, remains a matter of bitterly contested preference. The Jezabels work in a field that I am going to call Very Large Pop Songs. The drums are crashing and reverbed; the guitars and organs are sweeping and reverbed; and the vocals have a lot of reverb. It's what U2 tried to invent 15 years after disco invented it, and the Jezabels do it well.
The thing is, in Very Large Pop Songs "well" means "consistently." A regular quality to Jezabels' tracks amplifies what you think about them. If you like Bonnie Tyler and/or Jesus Jones' "Right Here, Right Now," you will love them. If you engage your music sophisticate reflex for even a second, though, the spell will be shattered and you will fall into resentment. Those of us who like to like pop music will find plenty here to work with, but the rest of us will find plenty to criticize.
The Jezabels play the Top Hat Fri., Sept. 7, at 10 PM with Butter and Airstream Safari. $12/$8 advance.