Radlands is Mystery Jets’ new album. It is the fourth effort of the London indie-pop group, and it shows a real, and favourable, change of direction for the band. Their rather shallow light-hearted pop is gone, and a more mature American country feel sits in its place. Despite the marked difference in sound between Radlands and Serotonin the band’s distinctive ability to write catchy melodies remains and there are tracks, like Greatest Hits, which are bound to become classics among fans.
The album progresses with a warm and satisfying collection of songs which are all linked together by their care-free Americana sounds. Although every cynical music fan will be suspicious of Mystery Jets attempts to pass off as a blues and Nashville influenced group when they are essentially a bunch of youthful British poppers, they need not worry: the MJs don’t half get it right.
The band needed a change of sound, a fresh start, after the loss of their bass player recently and that’s why they went to the States, so far from their hometown, to seek inspiration. They were desperate to try out something new. Perhaps it was this dedication that allowed them, against all odds, to pull of Radlands.
The keyboards and electro assitance in the bands earlier efforts have been superseded by murky guitar melodies and organs, creating a new dynamic and more solid sound on the album. The acoustic instruments almost lend it a “steel” quality. The lyrics are well thought through too and strike a healthy balance between being contemplative and in places refreshingly comic. It is perhaps due to this that the album does retain a light-hearted touch which would be much missed if absent.
My main complaint would be that Blaine Harrison’s attempts to capture the American feeling are a little extreme. Taking Texas as inspiration doesn’t mean creating music that feels fifty years out of place, and singing rather wistfully about 12 gauge and the Interstate, but there you go. All in all there are some very enjoyable tracks on Radlands, namely: Someone Purer and Lost in Austin and I think it is well worth a listen.