Years ago Mystery Jets began as a father/son project, influenced by the father’s classic tastes on Zootime. They followed that up being influenced by the masses and the trends on Twenty One. Now, we find them with Serotonin, matured and self-assured. The latest release provides one of the most consistently enjoyable albums for all sorts of listeners. Having stepped into their own, there is no telling where we’ll go from here.
You can barely hear the trickle of noise as the album opens, but as the vocals slowly climb on “Alice Sings” you can feel the rising tension. Enter crashing drums, and we’re off into a blissful romp of a tune fueled by knife-like guitars and Blaine Harrison’s maturing voice. It’s really this maturity, and not only with Blaine’s voice, but with the band’s sound as a whole that makes this one hell of a listen. “Too Late to Talk” begins with a bit of cheesy keyboards, but they provide a certain sense of vibrance here, as opposed to the kitsch factor that was evident in previous listens.
There’s stylistic touches all over the record that keep the listening fun and frivolous, yet this doesn’t mean that the whistling on songs like “Flash a Hungry Smile” do anything to detract from the overall quality of the songs. Really, it provides a deeper devotion to the purity of pop music. They know they can use clever tricks, but if they focus on the rest of the writing, then they escape clear of cliches. “Serotonin” has a similar little keyboard element kicking the song off, but the rest of the song sounds sort of bleak and dark, despite the subject matter.
Near the middle of the album, after you’ve been won over by song after song of special goodness, you hit the trifecta of amazing pop moments, surely the best moments on Serotonin. That little bit of a jangling guitar in “Dreaming of Another World” along with Harrison’s rising vocal melody makes this song stick out, for some reason, right in the middle of the album. Final production touches like the rolling drum beat near the end only make the track all the better. “Lady Grey” has this bubbling quality to it as the band sort of chugs along, but the kill factor comes during the chorus when Harrison asks “will you still love me in the morning.” His vocal delivery is one of the best you’ll hear from him, even going back to the early years. You’ll cease swinging your arms here if you listen to this chorus on repeat. Finally, the third of the brilliant moments here comes via “Waiting on a Miracle,” slow pop polishing, just before Harrison belts out “I think you’re waiting on a miracle.” Search all you want, but you probably won’t find pop music this good, indie or mainstream.
Closing out this album, it’s hard to find a single place where Mystery Jets took a misstep. Every song has its own personality, and in that, they all carry bright choruses fastened to tight songwriting of the pop-leaning sort. Serotonin is one of the most vibrant records of the year, built on the back of a band who seems to finally have come into their own as songwriters. Perhaps this isn’t what everyone expected from them, but we should all be thankful that there are bands still willing to make music as lovable as this.
Download: Mystery Jets – Dreaming of Another World [MP3]