Mystery Jets


Written by: TL on 12/06/2012 13:00:18

No matter how knowledgable reviewers like myself may try to sound in their writing, I think one thing is always going to be true for us: We're always catching up, because the world of music is always going to be too rich for us to know everything. Today I'm catching up with British indie-rockers Mystery Jets, whose fifth album "Radlands" I recently stumbled upon and decided to check out solely based on the combination of bandname, album title, artwork and its indie-rock tag.

Now I haven't heard any of Mystery Jets' four previous albums, but from what I'm reading "Radlands" is a somewhat special album for the band, because they went and lived and recorded it for two months in Austin, Texas during 2011. It comes as less of a surprise then, that the record sounds both like contemporaries from both sides of the pond - Brits in Kasabian and Razorlight come to mind, while California outfits Cold War Kids and Delta Spirit are also appropriate comparisons - and like something that was conceived while driving around Texas listening to the radio playing 60's and 70's radio classics. Just listen to "Greatest Hits" for instance, and notice how its opening is reminiscent of "Stuck in The Middle With You" (you know, the song from the ear-cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs) and how its lyrics of "these were our greatest hits, the best of me and you, our desert island discs" hints that somebody might have seen/read and identified with "High Fidelity".

Contrary to what you might get out of that paragraph however, "Radlands" is not a web of movie references, rather it's a chill, retro, atmospheric record, on which the Brits in Mystery Jets really conjure up the vibe they've gotten from warm, dusty Texas to the point where it's almost palpable to the listener. Such a rich and vivid soundscape is only to be expected from a band so far along in their career however, and what's just as important is of course how the individual songs pan out. Yet while I think Mystery Jets are slightly lacking in swagger and strength of hooks compared to Kasabian for instance, repeat listens of "Radlands" have revealed that it is in fact very consistent in offering catchy passages that welcome you back and makes the record grow with each subsequent listen.

"Someone Purer" for instance, has a cool chorus and gets a great injection of energy towards the end, and the same qualities apply in the following "The Ballad Of Emmerson Lonestar". Opener "Radlands" will greet you on each listen with a good refrain in its bridge, and later on the album "Sister Everett" has a verse with a poppy melody that goes straight to the brain, while "Lost In Austin" sees the band unload more power and pathos than anywhere else on an otherwise very relaxed album.

Moments like these make for a record that may not be among the best albums this year when it comes to marking you with the strongest, longest-lasting impressions, yet is a complete joy to listen to, in all its coolness, diversity and love for its influences. It may be a bit of a 'dad-rock' record given its restrained, light-weight approach, but if that's not a turn-off for you, I highly recommend it as a very casual and nuanced experience in retro-influenced music.

Download: Someone Purer, The Ballad Of Emmerson Lonestar, Lost In Austin, Greatest Hits
For The Fans Of: Cold War Kids, Delta Spirit, Razorlight, Kasabian, Mando Diao

Release Date 30.04.2012
Rough Trade

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