The Jaws of Life represented a breakthrough for Hunters & Collectors where their more ambitious artistic impulses were harnessed to melodic, concise, and structured songs. Less pretentious than Hunters & Collectors and less anarchic than The Fireman's Curse, The Jaws of Life took a strategic step toward accessibility without sacrificing any of the band's powerful intensity. While still predominantly dark, H&C's music in this period showed a growing humanity that could even be called soulful. Who would have guessed that they were capable of such a convincing take on Ray Charles' "I Believe to My Soul"? While Mark Seymour's words on The Jaws of Life can hardly be called linear or narrative, they are considerably less random and more evocative than on previous albums, and his vocals benefit from increased restraint. H&C's sound still rests squarely on the solid foundation of the Archer/Falconer rhythm section, with Seymour's slashing rhythm guitar and The Horns of Contempt working in and around the grooves. A couple of ballads -- "Hayley's Doorstep" and "Carry Me" -- and the anthemic "It's Early Days Yet" show off the band's increased range. On the whole, a superior and highly recommended record.
AllMusic Review by Bill Cassel