13 July 2010

Mystery Jets: "Serotonin"

Slightly giving into this 80’s mania, Mystery Jets release their third studio album, “Serotonin” (5 July 2010 in the UK, 13 July 2010 in the USA). No, this is not a new wave or post-punk revival album in the least – and we thank this quintet for that – but there is a feel of classic arrangements with a touch of key effects. Sticking to a mid-tempo pace for the most part, the album is released by Rough Trade, the first album Mystery Jets recorded with their new home. Now, Mystery Jets might have been nervous about joining this eclectic family of artists and having to live up to an amazing reputation, which includes acts such as Belle & Sebastian, James, Mazzy Star, and Scritti Politti. Luckily, after one listen, “Serotonin” proves to be a perfect addition to this eclectic label.

The album is named after that chemical that makes you feel good or makes you a bit whacky, depending on how much is in the mix. And this proves to be a perfect metaphor for the album. There are times, to quote Robert Smith twice, the album is so “it’s a perfect day… to burst, grin, giggle, bliss, skip, jump and sing…” And other times it is more of “nothing ever changes, nothing ever moves, and I run around hysterical in dead persistent gloom.” What is most amazing about the album is that both extremes of serotonin are reached within the same mid-tempo range. They never feign an ecstatic or the harrowingly mundane attitude – keeping a musical balance and sincerity, they allow the sometimes intricate, sometimes simple and direct arrangements and lyrics to carry you on this musical journey.

Opening with “Alice Springs” eerie intro, Blaine Harrison sings, “Freedom is an illusion generated by your brain to deadly cut the words to ever explain. And love is the taste you get on the tip of your tongue; better to have loved and lost than to have lived and never loved anyone.” Beat drops, amazing guitar arrangements, this is the one song that is dying to explode into a frenzy – or is that hysterics? And of course, I am a sucker for a literary reference, and though the use of Tennyson is a bit cliché, it is integrated nicely into the song. “To Late to Talk” plays with the sonic dichotomy of a piano and synths. Then “The Girl Is Gone” comes on, and you wonder to yourself, “Haven’t I heard this one before?” No, you haven’t, but the fact that you would think so is the testament to solid songwriting: the ability to make a song feel so familiar from first listen. No samples and no ripping off another song, there is a familiarity that just draws you into this song.

As the album unfurls, your only complaint will be is that all the songs, somehow or other, revolve around “love.” Then again, ninety percent of music is about relationships, love, break-ups, “please come back to me, I will die without you” mantras. But unlike other albums that typically make me sick to the stomach with all the gushiness, Harrison sells the lyrics, the band emotes sincerity in their music, and the album, at its completion with “Lorna Doone,” is endearing in its own way. And just like the album started with a literary reference, it ends with one: "Lorna Doone: A Romance of Exmoor," by Richard Doddridge Blackmore – a twisted (and wordy) eighteenth century novel; I will avoid the long, tortured plot summary and say she (Lorna) has that happy ever after end.

Solid album, that demonstrates growth from a band that is putting out a third album. With “Serotonin,” Mystery Jets does not reproduce their own or someone else’s past, instead they push forward and are starting to demonstrate the maturity and sophistication that is inevitable when you are reflective of your craft. This is a great album through-and-through, and where as Mystery Jets have never stopped me in my tracks before and made me really want to listen, they succeeded in just that this time around – the third time is the charm, and it is time to take another listen now.

Track Listing:
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 Dane

Keep up with Mystery Jets at their homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.

Here is their video for “Dreaming of Another World” from their YouTube Channel: MysteryJets.

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