Mystery Jets - Twenty One
Review by Jack Foley
MYSTERY Jets announced the arrival of their sophomore album with the release of barnstorming lead single Young Love, featuring their catchiest chorus yet and a rip-roaring backing vocal from emerging folk singer Laura Marling.
It remains the defining moment on the long-player, a giddy and utterly infectious musical romp that will rarely be bettered this year in terms of optimism and sing-along value.
That’s not to say Twenty One is a disappointment, merely not as good as that single suggests. It flatters to deceive – but in a good way.
Hailing from Twickenham’s Eel Pie Island, Mystery Jets owe much of their musical inspiration to ’70s prog rock but are savvy enough to mix their sound up a little for this assured sophomore release.
Kicking off with an air raid siren wail, which certainly grabs the attention and hints at the retro feel to follow, the album then kicks up a scuzzy eletro wave and some smart beats before careering giddly into an indie-electro disco frenzy that Klaxons might be proud to call their own.
The guitar loops that flit in and out feel ripped from the ’80s – but don’t grate as much as some of that decade’s revivalist tendencies.
Young Love follows and continues to sound as fresh, exciting and Motown influenced as it did when you first heard it.
While Half In Love With Elizabeth is catchy in a throwaway kind of way, courtesy of the “woo hoo’s” and Blaine Harrison’s emphatic vocal delivery.
Of much bigger interest, however, is the doo-wop style of Flakes, which finds Blaine deciding to stretch himself a little more vocally, mindful of the fact the band has chosen to strip things down. It’s a beguiling song that serves notice that Mystery Jets aren’t content to sit on their laurels.
Veiled In Grey, meanwhile, opens with one of the freshest guitar strums on the LP and then proceeds to deliver the kind of breezy, radio-friendly offering that ought to easily appeal to fans of The Kooks (albeit with some biting social commentary).
Two Doors Down is a love song about the girl next door that self consciously owes its rampant ’80s style to the likes of Aztec Camera and Phil Collins. But don’t let that put you off; it’s great fun in a hopelessly retro kind of way.
Elsewhere, Umbrellahead drops a kooky piano loop and a vocal that wouldn’t sound out of place on a White Stripes LP, while First To Know flirts outrageously with a repeat of the Young Love guitarwork whilst reminding you that Mystery Jets are just as capable of thrilling with an indie-rocker as they are an ’80s nostalgia trip.
Come slow-building final track Behind The Bunhouse, which indulges some of that prog-rock passion, you really ought to have been won over.
So, while Twenty One may lack the instant appeal of its lead single, it’s a confident and extremely engaging sophomore effort that marks a significant step forward in the career of this enjoyable young band. Long may the good work continue…
Download picks: Young Love, Flakes, Veiled In Grey, Two Doors Down, Umbrellahead, First To Know