Despite being in cowboy disguise, COSMO GODFREE still reckons the Mystery Jets are as good as ever.
The Junction, Friday 20th April.
Oddball psych-pop eccentrics. Then, Top 40 New-Wave revivalists. And now? Mystery Jets have entered their Americana phase.
Actually, beyond a few superficial signifiers, that’s really not very true at all. Sure, the new album (recorded in Texas) is called Radlands, a pun presumably in homage to the Springsteen classic. The band even come onstage wearing cowboy gear, minus the hats. But this new aesthetic is a bit misleading. A few of the new songs unveiled tonight show a shift towards more country and blues-tinged textures, but they’re stuffed with the catchy hooks and epic choruses that the Jets are most loved for.
In terms of quality… well, it’s a mixed bag. Sister Everett goes for Stones-style boogie, but could do with being a lot more rollicking. You Had Me At Hello is nowhere near interesting enough to justify its more atmospheric approach. Perhaps they were suffering from their unfamiliarity with the style, but some of it seemed a bit uninspired.
That said, two of the new songs immediately stand out as future favourites. Greatest Hits engages with the quite frankly brilliant concept of dividing up the record collection at the end of a relationship, all set to a suspiciously upbeat groove. Always adept at making nods to music of the past, here we get references to Neutral Milk Hotel (!) and Roxy Music, among others, which somehow feel natural rather than forced.
The title track, Radlands, is a complete stunner, tiptoeing gently through stripped-down verses before erupting into a huge chorus. It definitely shows a boost of confidence in their song writing, and it goes down really well.
Of course, that’s only the new stuff. Four albums in now, and Mystery Jets have a pretty enviable back-catalogue, shown by the number of awesome songs they have to leave off the set list. Interestingly enough, tunes from last album Serotonin are met with an absolutely massive response – Dreaming of Another World shamelessly nicks the riff from Mamma Mia to great effect, and an encore of Alice Springs is the best evidence that this band could still one day dream of playing arenas.
The biggest cheers were reserved for the Jets? very own greatest hits – the one-two pop smash of Young Love and Two Doors Down, the latter of which never seems to grow tired, and is still comfortably one of the best songs of the last decade. It’s to the band’s credit that neither of these have become an albatross, and the joy with which they dispatch tonight’s set hopefully means that they’ll be around for a while longer.
Totally rad, dude.