When Mystery Jets first came along, we couldn’t help but be charmed. Part of the same ‘Thames Crew’ (media created, by all accounts) that spawned Jamie T, the group toured with the lead singer’s dad on drums and – whilst making waves with the latest in indie rock chic – always had a little bit of an alternate take on just how music should be made. It’s an ethos they’ve held dear throughout their career: despite often being categorised as just another indie-rock band, Mystery Jets have wider influences, a more distinctive sound and a sizable cult following.
Having been dropped by their American-based record label, however, the band seems to be a downhill slope, and promoted their most recent effort by telling anyone who would listen how much ‘cock’ the album contained. It’s a shame, as Mystery Jets music deserves better than such tabloid blurb, even if it did grab them an NME cover. If there’s one thing we can’t detect in ‘Serotonin’, it’s cock: this is the band’s mellowest album to date, sparser and more vocally-focused than their previous work, with beautiful harmonies characterizing its every chorus. There’s nothing overtly sexual about it, it’s just good, old-fashioned playful guitar and blended with summery and occasionally witty, melancholy vocals.
The problem Mystery Jets face these days is in attracting new interest. While opener ‘Alice Springs’ is a genuine stunner, a track with a ‘summer hit’ opening that’s reminiscent of a cross breed involving Vampire Weekend and The Delays, the moments of class are sporadic, with title track ‘Serotonin’ marking the last moment of any real class. ‘Show Me The Light’ is a harsher, synth-driven moment, while ‘The Girl Is Done’ is lively but a touch repetitive. While it’s all very nice, there’s a feeling that once the initial moment of brilliance has passed, Mystery Jets are a little lacking in ideas.
Seretonin’s charming in its own way, and has a stripped down sophistication that let’s the songwriting stand out. At the same time there’s something very dated about large parts of this record, a factor that would almost certainly limit its longevity and capacity to make the mainstream breakthrough this edge-of-the-scene act have always looked just a touch short of. Download the brilliant ‘Alice Springs’, soak up a few sunshine harmonies and we’re confident you can make do without the rest.