Tag Archives: Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets ‘Radlands’ – Review

11 May

It’s easy to forget just how many costumes Mystery Jets have worn over the years. Remember how strange and psychadelic their debut was? And remember just how surprising it was when their second album, ’21’, turned out to be a synth pop banger without any signs of madness or eccentricity? And remember just how alarmingly intimate their third record, ‘Serotonin’, was? That their new album, ‘Radlands’, has seen them go country-rock is even more surprising without being at all surprising – we’ve come to expect the unexpected from the band. What’s remarkable is that throught their career, despite their constant attempts at reinvention, Mystery Jets have never sounded like anyone else except themselves – and that’s a compliment.

It seems ‘Radlands’ is the product of some kind of existential crisis for the band. Back in 2010 Mystery Jets got their hearts broken and made a pretty stunning album all about it. So what do you do once the tears have dried and you’re ready to move on? Well, most people would run away given half a chance, it’s just that they have commitments – jobs, family etc, not to mention a lack of money. Mystery Jets however are a rock n roll band, therefore they have no commitments or money problems! So what did they do? The first thing anyone would do of course – they got on a plane and flew as far into Texas as they could and proceeded to spend a couple of months getting drunk, writing songs about weirdos and pretending to be Johnny Cash!

On ‘Radlands’ the band sound more confident than they ever have before. On songs like ‘Flakes’, ‘Umbrellahead’ and ‘Alice Springs’, Blaine sounded fragile, cut up and vulruble, but on ‘Radlands’ his voice is strong, well trained and powerful. Bass player Kai Fish and guitarist William Rees have also developed into great singers, and the three part harmonies are delightful throughout. ‘You Had Me at Hello’ has particularly memorable vocals for a song about finding love in the arms of a prostitute. The theme of uncertainty runs throughout the album, as song titles like ‘The Nothing’ and ‘Lost In Austin’ suggest. Blaine isn’t the most sophisticated writer on the block but he is able to squeeze all possible meaning and emotion out of simple lyrics.

William Rees’ songs are the weaker ones on the album. His songs, including ‘The Ballad of Emerson Lonestar’ and ‘Sister Everett’ attempt to tell storys but fail to be interesting despite having some clever melodic hooks. ‘Where the Roses Go’ is a nice duet between William and his girlfriend Lucy Rose, but it’s a little too cliched and cheesy for my tastes. His best moment is the funky, almost Bee Gees sounding ‘Hale Bop’ which features some amazing falsetto vocals and sprightly guitar licks. Blaine’s songs are better because he can convey more with his voice and through his lyrics. Despite the newly found confidence I mentioned earlier, there is still a degree of sadness in his delivery, particularly on the soul searching first single ‘Someone Purer’ which is built around the genius refrain of ‘Give me rock n roll and a pure and innocent soul’, surely a contradiction in terms?

Like fellow eccentrics The Horrors, Mystery Jets always get compared to older bands. Reviews of their previous albums often spent more time name checking influences than talking about the music (a fact that led the infamous Pitchforkreviews-reviewer to write a blog complaining aout pitchfork’s dire review of ‘Serotonin’). This time the band have decided not to leave it to the reviews, and they actually list their favourite records on the jaw-droppingly brilliant ‘Greatest Hits’, which describes a couple dividing their record collection after a break up. I could print the entire lyrics to the song because they’re so fantastic but I think this line sums up its majesty: ‘your not having this nations saving grace, you only listen to it when you’re pissed / and when you sober up it’s always why the fuck are you still listening to Mark E Smith.’ Lyric of the year?

I’m a big fan of Mystery Jets first three albums and I guess ‘Radlands’ always had a lot to live up to in my eyes. I would be lying if I said it reached the dizzying heights of ‘Serotonin’ or ‘Twenty One’ (two of the most underated pop albums of recent years), but that said, it’s still amongst the very best records I’ve heard all year. Like that Kids cartoon adventurer Mr Ben, Mystery Jets like trying on new costumes, so what will they come out as next time? They’ve toyed with glam rock in the past or maybe they’ll go grunge? punk rock? I’ve always wondered what a dubstep Mystery Jets song would sound like… or not.

8/10

New music from Mystery Jets

18 Mar

I maintain that Mystery Jets are in the very top-tier of contemporary British Bands. When it comes to being consistently productive, innovative and enjoyable there are only a couple of bands I would rank above them. With this in mind you should be jumping up and down with joy to hear that they will be releasing their fourth album, ‘Radlands’ on the 30th April. Below is the track listing, along with the country tinged first single ‘Someone Purer’.

1 Radlands
2 You Had Me At Hello
3 Someone Purer
4 The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar
5 Greatest Hits
6 The Hale Bop
7 The Nothing
8 Take Me Where The Roses Grow
9 Sister Everett
10 Lost In Austin
11 Luminescense

Mystery Jets announce ‘LP4’

23 Nov

I love Mystery Jets – this is no secret. So I’m i’m pretty chuffed that we wont have to wait too long for album number four. According to a fairly fauge post on their website, ‘LP4’ (I doubt that’s the final title) will be released in April 2012!!!! Check out the full statement below

“Winter has bestowed itself upon us and once again the weatherman warns us that we will soon be brushing snow flakes from our faces. We have returned from texas with dirty boots, a family member heavier (a beautiful young lady by the name of odessa) and a quiver of new songs. Admittedly less than we went out with (such are the worlds’ ways) but damn me if they aren’t some of our favorite yet.”

Early reports suggest the album will have a radically different sound to the group’s excellent 2010 album ‘Serotonin’ and there are even suggestions that the band have ditched pop in favour of country (this wouldn’t be too surprising a twist, they have tried prog and disco in the past afterall).

For now, remind yourself why you love them

 

Kai Fish ‘Cobalt Cheeks’

13 Jul

First single from Kai Fish (AKA Mystery Jets bass player). Very good indeed. Check out www.kaifish.co.uk for info on his debut album ‘Life in Monochrome’.

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

Yeasayer ‘Odd Blood’ – Review

2 Feb

‘POP GOES THE BAND!’

Remember Mystery Jets first album? The weird one? ‘Making Dens’ was a pretty fine piece of work but the chances are you remember the band for their poptastic second album ‘Twenty One’. It was a change of direction, a pretty mainstream direction, but it worked wonders for the group. Yeasayer have attempted to make the same transition with their second album, ‘Odd Blood’, and the results are a little bit more mixed.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good album, at times it’s pretty brilliant and It’s also as weird as they come. But my first reaction was one of disappointment. Their debut ‘All Hour Cymbals’ did for Middle Eastern music what Vampire Weekend did for African music. That may be a bit of a simplification but the group essentially took the music and themes of world music and westernized them. It was a beautiful vocal based record with some eccentric tendencies, catchy melodies and an indie sensibility.

I was expecting ‘Odd Blood’ to be progression of the same idea, in the same way that ‘Contra’ progressed Vampire Weekend’s sound. Instead this album is a fairly radical departure for the band. The harmonies and vocal chants have largely be scrapped which is slightly sad, and the exotic instruments have also been replaced by exotic computers. As I say, this is still an eccentric album (the first track is one of the freakiest beginnings to any album I’ve ever heard) it’s just eccentric in a different way.

So Yeasyer have gone synth pop, kind of. ‘O.N.E’ and ‘Ambling Alp are bona-fide hits in the making, both counting among the catchiest songs I’ve heard in yonks. lyrically they have also moved on from bizarre tales of the future to songs about more down to earth themes, there is even a song called ‘Love Me Girl’. Well the guy is clearly in love with someone, on ‘I Remember’  he repeats ‘You’re stuck in my mind all the time.’ This track is another winner.

If the album was this consistent over ten tracks then I would say their move to synth pop has been a success. However, like the first album, there are a couple of duds on here. Nothing shockingly bad (although ‘The Children will certainly raise a few eyebrows), but ‘Strange Reunions’ feels a bit like filler and the album ends on a rather anti climactic note with ‘Grizekla’. Luckily the strong songs far outweigh the weak ones but it does mean that ‘Odd Blood’ is a very good album rather than a great one.

So Yeasayer have aimed for success and good on them, they certainly deserve it. This is a bold departure for the band and It’s going to win them more fans than it will loose them. ‘Odd Blood’ has some strange moments but it is surely destined for the radio, and thats just fine with me.

7.5/10