Mystery Jets | Radlands
In the well-thumbed issue of ‘Album Release Campaigns For Dummies’ one of the subjects it doesn’t suggest is one of your groups key members quitting days before the album hits the shelves. Rather unfortunately, everybody’s favourite Eel Pie quartet find themselves in such a position, returning with their fourth album, Radlands after a turbulent few weeks in which bassist Kai Fish quit the band.
From the same book frontman Blaine Harrison hs obviously read the ‘cast off your audiences predispotitions’ and has stoked the fires of pre-release buzz by admitting that the group, in order to make an interesting record, were keen to go to “the furthest place from everything we knew”. Recorded in Austin, Texas, Radlands – a cheeky play on the famous Springsteen title – draws on their surroundings to fashion an all new Americana inspired sound.
The album begins softly with the enchanting title track that opens with the strum of electric guitar. Harrison’s stripped back vocals build perfectly to a resounding, effortless chorus, akin to the indie-rock sound that The Jets do so well, before leading in to the more up-tempo You Had me at Hello where group harmonies fill the chorus developing a sense of familiarity with their previous material.
It’s with the album’s first release, the excellent Something Purer, where the album really picks up its momentum and finds its voice. Opening with a loop of lofi guitar and rumbling bass in the background it showcases a ‘whoa-oh-oh’ chorus, engaging lyrics and lap steel guitar to culminate in a fun loving pop song that typifies the bands undeniable appeal and gift at writing sutiably engaging hooks.
In amongst the Americana there are still nods to the small island that gave birth to them, Greatest Hits is an upbeat, nostalgic beauty that delivers a very Beatles-esque sound while Hale Bop is a small slice of disco-pop opening with gospel chantings of ‘’Saviour!’’ giving co-vocalist, Will Rees a chance to shine, all the while Blaine breaking out some rock style riffing in the background. This naturally leads into The Nothing, where you find yourselves back on the dusty route 66 with a blues infused track which continues on the same religious theme opening with a prayer like confession ‘O dear Father, where do I begin’ displaying a spiritual side to the Jets not explored before.
The centrepiece and longest track of the album, Lost in Austin opens mournfully with a foreboding bass and guitar but eventually injects some American anthemic rock and roll vocals exposing a heavier and more raucous sound while its adversery Luminesense, a heartfelt acoustic folk track complete with simple vocals creating a sound that is romantic, exciting and fresh ensure Radlands ends on a note of the highest quality.
It’s clear to see the band’s quirkyness and ear for catchy hooks remains intact. They’ve moved away from their signature poppy music style to concentrate on a more intimate listen. The recording of Radlands in Texas has injected the band with a heavy influence of Americana to their beloved Anglo-pop sound, and you know what, they pull it of with applaudable ease.