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Mystery Jets Serotonin Review

Album. Released 2010.  

BBC Review

A varied, touching, excitable and witty third album from the ambitious Londoners.

Lou Thomas 2010

Twenty One, the 2008 album which yielded Mystery Jets’ astonishing single Two Doors Down, was a step up in ambition and quality from the band’s bright 2006 debut, Making Dens. Neither album quite delivered on the band’s supreme early promise but, at last, Serotonin is the real deal.

Although singer Blaine Harrison and his four cohorts (including his now non-touring dad Henry) make what could loosely be termed British guitar indie, their inventiveness and raft of ideas mean they operate on a plateau far above most of the competition. Their only obvious UK peers, who express similar levels of imagination, are British Sea Power and Super Furry Animals.

Alice Springs, the excellent opener, finds Blaine’s rich, quivering voice married to a tremendous wall of sound of ascending synth, wordless vocal chants and guitar pummelling. At its biggest peaks, you can almost imagine Arcade Fire speeding down the Thames in a speedboat, to moan at the band for nicking their sound.

Too Late to Talk begins with serious prog silliness, the kind most commonly associated with strange men sporting stranger beards. But it soon turns into a hugely affecting piano ballad, one bizarrely reminiscent of Guns N’ Roses’ November Rain, albeit minus Axl and a brilliantly overblown ending.

By far the boldest track is Show Me the Light. Some pundits would say mixing an early-90s house bassline with iridescent Friendly Fires synth, chiming U2 riffs and hectic flamenco guitars is foolish. They are wrong. The shimmering, almost ecstatic single Dreaming of Another World is a moreish moment of Byrds-style whimsy and perhaps epitomises the mood of Serotonin best. It’s utterly alive and is filled with the immensely attractive certainty that, actually, life is great if you live it with the right attitude.

There are many more moments of magic on this triumphant third album. Among them, The Girl is Gone proves Mystery Jets can do melancholy in as confident a manner as they do happiness. Mellifluous, lovelorn and tender, it’ll squeeze the heart of anyone who’s ever been in love, and especially those who’ve later felt theirs break.

Under the watch of venerable, veteran producer Chris Thomas (whose credits include The Beatles, Sex Pistols and countless others) these west Londoners have made a varied, touching, excitable and witty album. Really, how can one not love a record containing Flash a Hungry Smile with its line of, “Have you heard the birds and bees / have all got STDs?”

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