What do you do if you’re a band from the mid-noughties heyday of British-indie-pop-mania trying to remain relevant in the twenty-ten climate of British-indie-pop-dementia? An exodus to America is one option and this route has been taken by Mystery Jets, who have fledged their insular Eel Pie Island nest and have trekked the Deep South of the US with guitars on their backs to record their fourth album ‘Radlands’ in Austin, Texas.
On first impression it would seem that the Mystery Jets troupe aren’t all buckets and spades about their holiday destination. The titular song opens with the lyrics ‘I’ve heard there’s a place where we go to die. It’s a terribly overrated horse-shit shaped hole in the sky’ while a guitar hook that sounds more like the theme tune for an industrial estate in Romford lingers in the background. The chorus kicks in and the guitars charge like an Eric Morricone spaghetti western score alongside a canter of drums, giving the album a more solid grounding in its attempted imitations. There is indeed an worthy Americana twist to some songs that could fool even the most steely of cotton-eyed Joes but at times the hangover of Brit-Indie spoils the line dancing with a pummelling of power chords and whooping choruses.
From the proggy junkyard sound of their debut ‘Making Dens’ to the poppy sheen of ‘Twenty One’ and the synth driven dreaminess of ‘Serotonin’, Mystery Jets are a band who haven’t been ashamed to change their spots from album to album. It comes as no surprise that their latest offering is as musically distant from their origins as it is geographically removed from their homeland in South West London. But in the Texan desert where they recorded ‘Radlands’, the bands roots are still evident as tumbleweed rolling about an alien landscape in which they don’t seem entirely comfortable, leaving their once vibrant sound dried out and a bit lacklustre.