Mystery Jets found their musical niche around the same time as Arctic Monkeys fever struck, and half the world seemed to be singing about how good our old-school dance moves look. They flittered onto the scene with hits like staccato anthem -You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’, an act that charmed with their quirky indie rock and elderly -dad of a band member’ bass player. Harrison elder, though, has long since left the band, and it’s a matured and substantially more sedate version of the Mystery Jets that step on to The Academy stage this Saturday night.
Perhaps it’s the practised crutch work of lead vocalist Blaine Harrison, whose laboured movements from stage left to his mic-front chair look practised yet painful, but the four-piece are taking a slower, more well practised road then their early shenanigans suggested they might. The band’s first ever Irish headline slow is littered with tracks from their yet to be released third album (we’re not counting the altered US version of their debut), the highlight of which is the soulful -Alice Springs’, a track getting its first live airing and sounding instantly chart worthy.
In truth, for all their -under the radar’ credibility, Mystery Jets are far less the typical indie rock band of four or five years ago. They’ve upped the vocal harmonies, and their newer material suggests a polished route to rock and roll awaits. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but their note perfect reproduction of the album is satisfying but leaves little unique to rave about. The angst they used to touch upon in their live show is lacking: If anything, tonight Mystery Jets are a touch too polished, with fan-favourites -Flakes’, -Veiled in Gray’ and -Hand Me Down’ all well turned out but lacking any real bite. Old favourite -‘¦Dennis’, incidentally, is missing altogether.
The set is a jolly experience, one that takes a weird turn into 80s pop with one new track, an upbeat effort that prominently features the words -miracle’ and -physical’ alongside an unusually danceable rhythm (not a cover, fortunately, but we couldn’t help thinking of a certain Euro-dance band). Still, this is a band that formed on the legendary, inaccessible jazz-niche corner of the Thames, Eel Pie Island, so confounding expectations probably comes with the territory. On this evidence, Mystery Jets are no longer a rock and roll band, they’re a well practised and slightly too predictable pop act that falls into a similar niche to Razorlight, despite the drum-top posturing. In truth, that’s not such a bad thing: they do it well, and the new, less experimental version of Mystery Jets is nothing if not smooth and unfailingly upbeat. They’re not world beaters, but that they’re well-practised and smile-inducing, and that alone makes them worth a look.
Photos: Kieran Frost
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