Mystery Jets


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Serotonin is Mystery Jets' third album for a third record label yet, a fact that speaks volumes about the difficulty the band seems to have in finding its path. Even if they remain hugely talented and each of their records is impeccably realized, one cannot help but feel that Mystery Jets may still be looking for their place in the world, both artistically and commercially. Legendary producer Chris Thomas is brought on board to reshuffle the deck, which seems a smart move considering that Mystery Jets are -- as many bands of their time -- musical chameleons with an encyclopedic obsession with pop history. Thomas has famously worked with Badfinger, Elton John, Roxy Music, and Pink Floyd, to name but a few, and Mystery Jets dutifully amalgamate all of the above, at one time or another, into the baroque pop of Serotonin. The result is a record of greater stylistic variety and sophistication than the punchier, instantly likable Twenty One. If that previous album was chock-full of potential hit singles, Serotonin is chock-full of ideas, often inside a single track. A case in point is the opener, "Alice Springs," a cinematic roller coaster more reminiscent of the swirling epics of Arcade Fire than the concise bounciness of Franz Ferdinand. The swooping "Lady Grey" and "Waiting on a Miracle" are also standouts. Credit goes to Mystery Jets for rarely sounding here like they're aping specific bands, but for creating a pop mosaic of their own by piling up their influences and crowning it with their signature vocal arrangements -- which, at the end of the day, is what truly sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. Serotonin may offer less immediate pleasures than Twenty One, but it promises to reward repeated listening. It also proves that Mystery Jets are not mere retro revivalists but an eminently noteworthy British indie band restlessly looking for avenues to flex its creative muscle.

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