Tag Archives: Flash a Hungry Smile

Mystery Jets ‘Serotonin’ – Review

7 Jul

The late great Lester Bangs once said that ‘every great work of art has two faces, one towards its own time and one towards the future, towards eternity’. But he forgot about the face that looks to the past, and this is the most prominent face of ‘Serotonin’, Mystery Jets third album.

Mystery Jets have always been a band connected to the musical heritage. They remind me of hoarders, or people who go to garage sales – the artwork for their first album appropriately featured antiques and their sound was a similarly ramshackle collection of ideas from musical history – prog rock, psychedelia, punk, indie etc – they were a very 21st century band who were unafraid to mix up genres. They ripped it up and started again for album number two, ‘Twenty One’, which had it’s face firmly glued to the 1980’s, Molly Ringwald movies, shoulder pads and the hit factory. Many people were trying to guess where they would take their time machine next – they teased that it would be to the 1970’s and glam rock – but in the end ‘Serotonin’ feels like a natural progression of their pop sensibilities.

If you believe the highlight of the band’s career to date was their eccentric debut then you will be disappointed that this new album has nothing (NOTHING!) in that vein. If, however, you thought they reached their creative peak with the single ‘Two Doors Down’ then you should be pleased with  ‘Serotonin’. The songs are bigger and more flamboyant than before, and the lyrics (without exception) look inwards, to the heart. It’s less blatantly retro than the last album but it is still built around a style that reached its peak 25 years ago. ‘It’s Too Late’ has the cheesiest 80’s synth in the world, and it’s hard to tell if it’s tongue in cheek or not. Either way I liked it, but it’s easy to see a lot of people finding it horrible.

On ‘Show me the Light’ their power pop influences are well and truly exposed, it could be an ELO or Supertramp song, and the fact that they pull it off shows what remarkable talent they have. Only the U2 sized riff and disco bassline makes me question if they went a bit too far. There is the same lack of restraint in every song, ‘Just try to scrape the sky, once in your life’, they sing on ‘Dreaming of Another World’ and they definitely practice what they preach. You get the impression that every song was written to be a single, they want to hit the bigtime and I don’t see why it won’t happen. Speaking of singles, the albums first two – ‘Dreaming of Another World’ and ‘Flash a Hungry Smile’ – are the best songs on here, and they represent the album condensed into 3 and a half minutes.

‘Twenty One’ was a coming of age record, and it sounded like a band finding themselves. ‘Serotonin’ sounds like they have found themselves, this is more complete, more spectacular and more determined. Some good attributes have obviously been lost on the journey though. Their confidence has replaced a vulnerability that was once their strong point, especially on songs like ‘Flakes’ and ‘Unbrellahead’. Also there is absolutely none of the adventure that made their debut such an exciting (but also hit and miss) album. There isn’t even the experimentation of ‘Twenty One’ – this time they have settled on their sound and they stick to it, which is disappointing in some ways. For a band that have always been diverse, it’s a slight shame that this is purely an album of 11 heartbreak songs. It means that ‘Serotonin’ is definitely their most consistent and accomplished album to date but probably their least thrilling.

The youthful energy has also vanished, you get the feeling that every note and every lyric here is very considered and deliberate. Most of these songs are mid tempo and there certainly isn’t anything with same spirit at ‘Zootime’ or ‘Hideaway.’ Plus the production, which was once as eccentric as the group, is now crystal clear and sharp as a tack. Blaine’s voice used to quiver and tremble, here it is powerful and dramatic which gives a different character to the songs.

So they are still rooting about in the past, and a cynic would argue that they are merely scroungers, steeling ideas from their favourite records, and borrowing lyrical clichés from rom-coms. But I couldn’t care less when the result is something as enjoyable as ‘Serotonin’, it may not be the most innovative album ever made but it has heart and these songs should light up the radio. melancholic and joyous at the same time, these tunes follow pop’s rulebook to the letter and if you are a fan of good music then you will be a fan of this. They have now made three fantastic but very different albums and frankly, Mystery Jets have elevated themselves into one of the best bands in the world right now.

8.5/10


New Mystery Jets and M.I.A

30 Apr

Two of the most anticipated releases this year are the third albums by Mystery Jets and M.I.A. Both have recently released early taster’s in the form of ‘Flash a Hungry Smile’ and ‘Born Free’ for MJ and MIA respectively. Both offer something old and something new, I can’t wait to hear the albums when they are released later on in the year. See the video’s  below as well as album details. P.S the video is for ‘Born Free’ is the clean one as youtube have taken down the controversial one – I’m sure you could probably see it somewhere on the net if you really wanted to.

Mystery Jets album is called ‘Serotionin’, it’s out on 5th July and this is the tracklisting

  1. Alice Springs
  2. Too Late To Talk
  3. The Girl Is Gone
  4. Flash A Hungry Smile
  5. Serotonin
  6. Show Me The Light
  7. Dreaming Of Another World
  8. Lady Grey
  9. Waiting On A Miracle
  10. Melt
  11. Lorna Doone

M.I.A’s album is untitled at the moment, it is out on 28th of June and this is the tracklisting

  1. The Message
  2. Born Free
  3. Meds And Feds
  4. Lovealot
  5. Tequilla
  6. It Is What It Is
  7. XXXO
  8. Tel Me Why
  9. Story Told
  10. Space