Hayley Mary’s authoritative voice and personality are the crux of Australian indie-pop group The Jezabels. The singer’s infectious energy breathes life into the band’s anthemic tunes, and now Mary’s brought it to her first solo endeavor—an ode to Sydney, Australia, called “The Piss, The Perfume.”
While The Jezabels often build their sound off ethereal flavors, “The Piss, The Perfume” comes right out of the gate with a bombastic guitar riff. The song continues to meander down a path of sincere reflections, based around an old lover coming back to Sydney. Across the wistful chorus, Mary stresses simplicity, singing, “The less that I have / The more that I find.”
In the song’s video, directed by Mclean Stephenson, Mary energetically waltzes down her Aussie streets and pubs dressed in an ambiguously vintage suit (and a pretty lavish ascot). Her androgyny becomes apparent when she dances between two smiling blonde women in dresses. Mary, in contrast, wants none of that, sporting dark eyeshadow and a messy bob. Though there’s a distinct sadness in the song, Mary’s silly dances and expressions convey an artist who gets a kick out of her own music—a charming combination.
In Mary’s view, the song represents a catharsis from a past sadness and sits amid an indistinct array of emotion:
I think I was very hungover or still drunk one morning after a night like this, (you know the feeling when you’re hungover but you’re kind of elated and glowing, because the suns coming up and somehow you feel in sync with the universe, but you’re probably just still pissed?) Anyway, I was newly in love and felt I was leaving a lot of sadness behind and this song came out of that.
You can watch the video for “The Piss, The Perfume” below and check out The Jezabels’ 2016 Paste studio session further down.