Jebediah : Kosciuszko
With single She’s Like A Comet debuting at number 11 on the ARIA singles chart and quickly being added to radio airplay lists, it’s evident that Jebediah have been missed during their hiatus. Since 2004’s Braxton Hicks, the Perth four-piece have been relatively quiet on the recording front, but this year’s Kosciuszko, their fifth full-length album, has their widely-dispersed fans flocking back in solidarity, with a whole generation of new Jebediah admirers hanging off their coat-tails.
Opener and first single Lost My Nerve is the perfect kick-off as it resounds with original fans eager to hear one of Australia’s most eminent pop-rock bands create familiar sounds swathed in nostalgia. However, newer, and presumably younger, fans will be roused and attracted to the searing rock ‘n’ roll that collapses into a heady two-minute-long guitar freak-out. Oxygen is next with a rock-y intro that’s really just a face for a pop song complete with catchy hooks. Album highlight She’s Like A Comet follows; its chilled-out reverence to the subject of the song is sweet, with earnest lyrics and a danceable tune.
In contrast, To Your Door is slower with more eccentric instrumentation and rhythm, which is less fun-inspiring than She’s Like A Comet but necessary to ensure differing paces and interest for a cohesive album. However, the following track, Control, is the standout on the album. It’s musically light, breezy and summery and lyrically optimistic and positive towards the beginning. But, halfway through, grunge takes hold and the song is propelled to a darker, more powerful place as singer Kevin Mitchell (Bob Evans in another life) yearns: “I kicked my plans to the side of the road / I wanna live more but I can’t let go / I wanna live more, more than before,” and asks “where do I go now? / Because I don’t wanna be in control.” It’s songs like these that made Jebediah so popular in their heyday – rock songs with enough pop elements to appease the masses, but without ‘selling out’ to tackiness and commercial styling, which proved to be a common fate for comparable bands of their generation.
Similarly, Battlesong implements a classic slow-rock structure, which could easily be heard-it-all-before boring. But drummer Brett Mitchell’s use of traditional military percussion rhythms (appropriate, considering the song’s theme) and a Jebediah midas pop touch prevent this dire fate. The following Freakin’ Out sparks things up as well. Driving percussion, emotive lyrics and a red-hot, hard-hitting intro make this a fine example of Jebediah’s ability to write songs that are both a complex, lyrical narrative and simply a damn good pop song.
High (Horse) is another standout on the album. Its verses are sparse, highlighting Mitchell’s voice (which is really good) and its choruses are a frenzy of fast drumming and loud guitar flourishes. But, closer Are We OK? really hits home. The delicate intro is the first sign of restraint on this otherwise dynamic album and is beautiful in all its sensitive glory. Mitchell sings with a certain reminiscence, Chris Daymond’s hazy guitars are strung out and willowy while Vanessa Thornton’s deftly applied, barely-there bass provides enough depth to prevent shallowness, but doesn’t overshadow the other subtle instrumentation.
Ultimately, Kosciuszko is a successful return for Jebediah. Hopefully, and deservedly, fans will be salivating to get their sweaty hands on a copy, propelled by the huge amount of radio airplay of the singles. However, now they’re back on the horse, I hope the wait for a follow up is nowhere near as long as this one. The anticipation will be life threatening.
Best Track: Like A Comet, Control.
If you like this, you’ll like: Jebediah’s previous four albums.
In a word: A+