Mystery Jets – Radlands

Mystery Jets ventured via Austin, Texas to record their latest album Radlands – and aren’t afraid to show it. In swift departure from the 2010 released full-length Serotonin, the British act shy away from those glossier hook laden edges and have erred towards less synth, more guitar slides, more sing-along’s, and an undisputable US twang.

The album-titled opening track Radlands, kick-starts a 12-track journey with a warbling guitar of dark proportions before lead singer Blaine Harrison chimes in with the lyric, ‘I’ve heard there’s a place where we go to die’. There are tambourines and big cymbal crashes to paint this grown-up picture of Mystery Jets – and so far the execution is convincing.

You Had Me At Hello continues the retro rock theme with finely plucked bass and quivering snare patterns that play as perfect complements to more yearning vocals of invincible love. This slower number rolls along with hand claps, muddy guitar licks, and the chiming of an organ in monumental moments between choruses -a soon to be familiar theme throughout.

Third track Someone Purer, is the single to the record and rightly so. While most songs on the album have an undeniably poppy heart beneath the twang Someone Purer wears it on it’s sleeve a little louder than the others, and whether that be thanks to the faster repeating hooks or whoa-oh’s in the chorus, it is certainly the most memorable tune after several listens.

The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar feels like an ode to late ‘70s folk-rock, countering glimmering and muted melodies on guitar before a final crash of a distorted psych solo that finishes as fast as it arrives. Meanwhile, the duet Take Me Where the Roses Grows, between Harrison and Sophie Rose splashes out with tropical tones and serves as a light and refreshing detour before the ballad heavy back end of the record. The organ on Sister Everett saves an otherwise lost choral breakdown that appears on the track’s fade out despite a promising beginning, while Lost in Austin and Luminescence become the final bricks and mortar in the group’s mature direction, serving as introspective ballads – the latter embracing an acoustic and cathartic sing-along that would serve good purpose on a long highway drive.

Radlands is Mystery Jets’ fourth studio album and though of a more mature and serious nature, it is incredibly easy to listen to – think the sweetness of The Thrills meets Neil Young – and while the care-free lyrics and polished glam pop of previous years have vanished, the group’s adeptness in creating what are essentially solid pop songs has remained. There is punch in those muddy guitars, and genuineness in the tales of Emerson Lonestar that solidify what appears to be a serious dedication to a newfound sound that works, interests and will arguably attract a whole new scope of listeners for the group.