At times this makes for rather surreal, though tantalizingly marvelous listening.
Rob Crossan 2008-03-20
Think that your favourite band is capable of throwing up the most arcane and cringworthy influences whilst keeping a straight face? Well, stand back imitators. Because the boys from Eel Pie Island are shoplifting the entire dairy counter. It's official. The Mystery Jets like Wet, Wet, Wet and Roxette and this, their second album, and the first without Henry Harrison, father of vocalist Blaine, is an utterly incongruous mish mash of rose water fresh prog epics and '80s pop so whiffy you might need smelling salts to bring you round by the end of the 49 minutes.
The whole album shows a band that is battling with a severe identity crisis. The solution, and perhaps not always the most sensible one, is seemingly to throw a plethora of musical bottles into the already rather murky canal water of post-Libertines discerning indie and see what manages to avoid hitting the semi-submerged supermarket trolley.
At times this makes for rather surreal, though tantalizingly marvelous listening. Two Doors Down is an utter anomaly coming across as an absolutely perfect pastiche of mid-'80s antipodean chart pop. Think along the lines of Live it Up by Mental as Anything played over the closing credits of Crocodile Dundee and you can almost hear the giant plastic earrings swing along to the synth pop and, cripes!, a sax solo and slap bass that wouldn't be out of place on a Level 42 single. Sorry and all that, but I'm afraid that this actually sounds really fantastic.
Blaine Harrison seems to have a rather cumbersome habit of coming over all Brendon Flowers on the overly adolescent whinge-angst of closing track Behind The Bunhouse which goes utterly overboard on the faux-elegiac histrionics. But these boys are still young. And without Dad to drive the car, they're proving with this album that, though the Pink Floyd fascination that dominated their debut album may have been replaced by even more dubious influences, there's still more of a hint of melody involved in an album of slow but rewarding fruition.