Mystery Jets: Radlands
After releasing some of the best subversive rock music over the last quarter century (the Buzzcocks, the Libertines, the Strokes, and more recently the Alabama Shakes) them boys at Rough Trade must get pretty bored with music in general. I bet the powers that be within the organization were sitting around the record shop, (and yes you can still walk through the shopfront on Old Talbot Road in London) thinking up ways to entertain themselves. I imagine it went something like this:
Geoff Travis: I’m bored as tits wit rock n rollas, what shall we do?
Random Employee: An album about sex?
GT: Done it…
E: Rock n’ R..?
GT: Don’t be so doss.
E: ‘Ow bout this? For a piss we’ll send the Jet lads over to Texas, let’em‘ava crack a steel guitars, rednecks and pick-up lorries
GT: Why, ‘ats brilliant!
So they did. And much like after He created music: It was good. At this point you must be wondering, what exactly happens when you send an English Indie-pop band into the depths of America’s most violent, unforgiving landscape to record an album? Well my friends, the answer is Radlands. Full disclosure, it’s a shitty title, but you can’t really blame Mystery Jets because they are going for the English rock market, plus you have not heard the album yet.
Anton Newcombe once said, “The only thing you’ll find in the middle of the road is dumb Americans and dead animals.” Don’t be either concerning Radlands. Give their discog a listen and you’ll understand what I mean. What began as a fun and frenzied flat-party group is quickly turning into an industry shaker.
The Mystery Jets cut their teeth as one of those Camdentown groups poised to conquer the world back in ought four. Unfortunately, shitty radio-friendly English groups like, Keane, Coldplay and Razorlight got the attention and mucked it up for everyone. But on Radlands you’ll find the rare progression some bands undergo that propels them past that sad cyclical trap of, ‘We’re nineteen and don’t want to get real jobs.’
The concept may sound kitsch, I know, but the material falls far from it. MJ has taken the finer elements of delta music and combined it with their natural upbeat garage pop sound on tracks like, “You Had Me at Hello” and “The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar,” to produce a unique blend of genres. The music is catchy, but falls squarely within the bounds of legitimate expression.
And though I’m thoroughly impressed with Radlands, I cannot overlook some few faults. Lyrically, the songwriting struggles to progress along with the musicianship. There are certain easy rhyme schemes and predictable patterns that contain the capacity to leave you sighing and rolling your eyes.
That aside, I applaud the group for interspersing dirty Delta lap guitars and fuzzed out organ melodies amidst seventiesque porn jazz and Brit Rock. The Mystery Jets may be utilizing technique Americana, but they’ve managed to create a sophisticated, continental record.
MP3: Mystery Jets “Sister Everett”
Mystery Jets: Radlands