Artist: Mystery Jets
Record Label: Rough Trade
Whenever an English band decides to journey across the Atlantic and embrace all things Americana, it tends to invoke the image of a gang hurtling down Route 66 in a Cadillac. For the purpose of this review, we are going to avoid the tumbleweeds and place plucky chaps Mystery Jets in a typical American diner. Although the now three piece Mystery Jets, drummer Kai Fish departed the band recently, decamped to the USA for album sessions that spawned their fourth effort, Radlands, the band ensnared the styling’s of all things stateside but the overall sound of Radlands still maintains a very English aesthetic. Harking back to the diner analogy, on the surface you have the traditional jukebox and waiters dressed as Elvis but the food served is ultimately English, bangers and mash for all with a dessert of sticky toffee pudding and custard to follow. Although these food choices may appear stodgy and full of fat, Radlands is a lean, slick, rock and roll record.
A clutch of track titles take inspiration from Mystery Jets new found admiration for Americana, with ‘Lonestar’ and ‘Lost In Austin’ leading the charge. The calm guitar twangs of the former sound quintessentially American as the band harmonies their vocals with heart warming ease. The track then slowly builds to a soaring, foot stomping climax. ‘Lost In Austin’ is a six minute epic, that captures the three piece in a reflective yet defiant mood. Vocalist Blaine Harrison is heard singing “Is there a world more lonely than ours/out there beyond the stars/is there another me, looking back across the sea?” To accompany this quizzical lyric the music gently transforms from placid strums to full on rock n roll racket and as the cacophony rises, Blaine shouts “Take me to the edge/I’m not scared”. The themes of defiance and reflection are common throughout Radlands, as the title track commences with “I’ve heard there’s a place where we go to die/it’s a terribly overrated horseshit shaped hole in the sky”. ‘Someone Purer’ is unbridled rock n roll brooding that screams “So deliver
me from sin and give me rock n roll” all to the sound of the rock n roll at its most infectious.
By stepping out of London and their comfort zone, Mystery Jets have cooked up a record of impassioned songs that sound intriguingly American but still maintain the vibe of their motherland.Now who fancies a shepherds pie served up on a stars and stripes dinner plate?!
Words and Thoughts of Adam Williams