If you were to take apart the Mystery Jets archive, you'd find influences unique to each of their first two albums. For their third, Serotonin, they bring on the elements of classic Eighties pop music to the melodic front. The album, produced by Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, Pulp, Roxy Music) sees the guys from Eel Pie Island turn over a glossy leaf and churn out an album that rises and falls in idyllic fashion. Contrary to their critically hailed "Twenty One", featuring the unforgettable single "Two Doors Down", Mystery Jets hide most of their off beat quirks in favor of a more majestic mix of harmonies and echoed notes. Along with sounds of the Eighties showing influence, they also turn to ELO, 10cc & even Fleetwood Mac for direction. Some might say they are on the verge of being cheesy with some of the new songs but in the mind of this humble reviewer that would be a bit pre-mature. They seem to be purposefully going to a simpler structure of pop, one that highlights common points we all encounter. That is not to say that the songs found on "Serotonin" aren't well crafted or interesting but instead that the charm of the record is in it's indulgence of straightforward pop of decades past.
"Show Me the Light" for instance, balances that melodic line with a showing of their dance inclinations, propping up a quick beat and a great synth bass line (a la Friendly Fires) to combine with their chiming guitars and harmonized vocals. It has been prompted by some that Mystery Jets are in line to inherit the Brit Pop thrown, once held by the likes of Oasis and The Cure. That is one hell of a statement and with the release of "Serotonin" the Mystery Jets have taken some heat through comparison. Criticism is found to be revolving around the over-saturated aspect of the record. Mystery Jets might have more gloss on this album but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The songs of love lost are some of the strongest on the record, with "Melt" being the best of the bunch followed closely by the melancholy "The Girl Is Gone." The greatest songs though, no surprise here, are about the adventures put into rhyme of the bands' good times with controlled substances. The title track "Serotonin" tries hard to give the illusion during the chorus of singing "Sarah Tonin", but the lyrics “I felt like I was floating / But now I'm coming down off you so hard” give for a pretty obvious reference to E. "Dreaming of Another World", their lead single, hits with reference to some other substances while standing as one of the best tracks on the album. Overall, "Serotonin" moves like a majestic pop record, a bit sugary at times, but running strong through the end.
Have a listen to the whole album for yourself:
Here at SFD, we also like to have a look at the manner in which an album is placed in to the public light. I remember checking one of my favorite blogs and suddenly seeing a stream of links to other sites all with the "New Mystery Jets" headline. Turns out that before their lead single was even announced they had offered on their website the album track "Flash A Hungry Smile". This wasn't some bonus B side, it was the band giving away one of their stronger songs for free long before the album was released.
The free track give-away is not all that uncommon in the music industry these days, but giving away a potential single was a strong commitment to fans. It wasn't a "hey I haven't fallen off the face of the earth" reminder to the bands core fans, but a method of making sure the band was jumping off on the right foot to get momentum building up to the release. Core fans were prompted by the site to sign up for the mailing list (which I have happily done since) but it was surely understood that the bulk of the attention received from fans would be from those who regularly check up-and-coming music websites hungry for new material.
It has turned out to be a strong play for the Mystery Jets, getting more attention than ever and garnering more plays each day. Back to the album itself, I stand by the idea that the Mystery Jets have updated a time capsule here. The idea of creating an album to sum up a period in time, and to execute it with emotional strings attached and in a modern way is really difficult to do. I think the Mystery Jets have done so in spades with their 3rd album Serotonin.
Pick Up "Serotonin" Here
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