Mystery Jets – Radlands (Rough Trade)
June 7, 2012 by Fran Jolley
With the departing of their most charismatic member Kai Fish - apparently not due to frontman Blaine Harrison turning slowly into a scarecrow but to look for new musical inspiration – could this be Eel Pie Island’s Mystery Jets swan song?
With a change of direction from the gleaming Chris Hughes (Tears for Fears, Roxy Music) pop production to an Americana approach, they have pulled the plug on the keyboards and gone for a more organic sounding record. This means that the songs can no longer hide and this is where Radlands breaks down.
The Mystery Jets have always worn their influences on their sleeves but a band spoilt by such an obvious passion for music have found it hard to fine-tune what direction the band should take. In the past they’ve dabbled in Syd Barrett quirkiness and ‘8os chic. Radlands sees them take yet another change of style and maybe it’s a step in the wrong direction. As without the sonic chic of their last two albums, the songs struggle to become more than just… OK – this is surely a dreaded two letter word for any band.
Lead single ‘Something Purer’ is maybe better than anything off 2010’s ‘Serotonin’ - a classic Fish bass line and a cooing chorus is what they do best – sadly this is far and few between and most of the albums relies on a pleasant acoustic strum and the odd power chord from Will Rees for entertainment.
Even the duet ‘Take Me Where the Roses Grow’ with frontman Blaine Harrison’s girlfriend Sophie-Rose Harper seems to channel the Austin vibe where most of ‘Radlands’ was made, but is merely sweet rather than moving.
With moving away from the comfort of London, it’s hard to accuse the new trio for not trying to brighten their horizons . But this, sadly, is a step back down the indie ladder and if this is the bands final hurrah they certainly haven’t gone out with a bang – a depressing thought as at their best The Mystery Jets are always the king of the indie disco.