Jet

Jet

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Best remembered as an early incarnation of what became Radio Stars, Jet's self-titled debut album does not disappoint anybody looking for an extra taste of that group's wired, often wacky charms. Although the production by Queen overseer Roy Thomas Baker is vastly overblown in comparison with Radio Stars' stripped-down punky punch, the heart of the band -- Andy Ellison's so-distinctive vocals and bassist Martin Gordon's idiosyncratic, pun-loving songwriting -- is still instantly identifiable. Indeed, the grandiosity of the surroundings often works to the songs' advantage. Minor classics "Start Here," with its wildly panning harmonies, the Spector-esque snippet of "Song for Hymn," and the maddeningly catchy doggerel of "Nothing to Do With Us" are sweeping epics in the making, with celestial strings and mellifluous guitars (from former Nice man Davy O'List) radiating a near-symphonic air that is impossible to resist. The album's keys, however, arrive as Jet flies toward its conclusion. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," the sad tale of a romantic misunderstanding, is tight, concise pop driven by a quirky keyboard line and a vocal that is almost imploring in its frustration; "Whangdepootenawah" is a childish nonsense rhyme that, although never explaining precisely what a "whangdepootenawah" is, nevertheless leaves you wanting one; and "Cover Girl" dates from Gordon's stint with Sparks, and would have sat very comfortably on that band's Kimono My House, albeit with added guitar attack. With the addition of the period B-side "Quandary," Jet has since been reissued as part of a double pack, featuring a second disc of outtakes, demos, live tracks, and radio sessions; a single-disc version on Radiant Future appends the B-side and includes a lengthy glimpse into the overdub sessions for "Nothing to Do With Us." As bonuses go, it's hardly essential, but is remarkably entertaining.

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