First Listen: Serotonin by Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets are back back BACK with their third album (their second since they ditched the Dad), entitled Serotonin. The follow-up to 2008’s synth-pop masterpiece Twenty One – an album that peaked at a lowly 42 in the UK charts!? – sets itself the almighty challenge of trying to better ‘Two Doors Down’, a song so perfect scientists have started studying it (they haven’t, but they should). Anyways, as is customary for any First Listen feature, we’re going to use a tenuous rating system in order to keep things interesting. Here’s what we’ve come up with…

So, we’ll rate each song using famous mystery writers. The scale is as follows:

1* = God

2* = Patricia Cornwell

3* = Enid Blyton (bit racist)

4* = Arthur Conan Doyle

5* = Agatha Christie

Right, let’s do this…

1. ‘Alice Springs’ – Twinkling keyboards emerge slowly and Blaine Harrison’s soft voice sings, “Freedom is an illusion / Generated by your brain” before, out of nowhere, big Meatloaf-esque guitars arrive and the whole thing swings into action. It’s a song about doing the most for someone you love (“Because I don’t have nothing if I don’t have you”) and sounds, as many of their songs do, simultaneously sad and happy. Sappy? Perhaps. It also has a great bit where you think it’s over and then it isn’t.

Verdict: Arthur Conan Doyle

2. ‘Too Late To Talk’ – Ah, the first fruits of their ’80s obsessions reveals itself with a deliciously cheesy synth riff. But it soon gives way to mournful piano and Blaine’s crooning now, sounding like a little boy lost. It’s quite an odd decision to have a big ballad as the second track on an album, but we’re dealing with contrary fellows as you well know. It meanders along nicely, but doesn’t really go anywhere and as much as we like the cheesy synth bit we’re going to have to give it…

Verdict: Enid Blyton

3. ‘The Girl Is Gone’ – Woah, someone got their heart broke bad. This continues the early theme of love being a bit of a bitch and sees those synths return alongside some lovely guitar flourishes. As with ‘Too Late To Talk’, however, it’s all very pleasant and mildly catchy but it also feels a bit lifeless.

Verdict: Enid Blyton

4. ‘Flash A Hungry Smile’ – Now this is more like it. You may have heard this already seeing as they gave it out as a free download the other month, but if not then you should know it’s a jaunty whistle-athon, complete with, er, whistling. It also features the classic line, “Have you heard the birds and bees / Have all caught STDs”. Seriously.

Verdict: Agatha Christie

5. ‘Serotonin’ – Now, we’re all for a good pun, but singing “Sarah Tonin” is just not cool. Despite this, the remainder of ‘Serotonin’ rumbles along nicely, with a typically catchy chorus and some breathy vocals that made us feel slightly uneasy (we’re not the only ones to think that perhaps Mystery Jets don’t clean their teeth twice a day are we?).

Verdict: Enid Blyton

6. ‘Show Me The Light’ – The ’80s synths have been a bit quiet of late, but they’re back in full force on this dance-tinged number, complete with cowbell, shimmering keyboards and a middle eight bit backed only by sleigh bells! Amazing. Once again, the chorus is immense and should have you dancing around your handbag.

Verdict: Agatha Christie

7. ‘Dreaming Of Another World’ – The first single, ‘Dreaming Of Another World’ is classic Mystery Jets, with melodies and hooks tumbling over themselves to be heard. Sung by guitarist William Rees, it’s a shimmering, summery pop hit in waiting, so for that reason will probably enter at number 37 when it’s released in early July.

Verdict: Agatha Christie

8. ‘Lady Grey’ – They’re on a bit of a roll now and ‘Lady Grey’ is perhaps the album’s highlight. Slightly tougher than the rest of the album, it rattles along at breakneck speed before exploding into an almighty chorus that deserves to be sung back at them during every single Festival appearance this summer.

Verdict: Agatha Christie

9. ‘Waiting On A Miracle’ – Starts with a weird, swampy mass of swirling guitars, like a lost Stone Roses track or something. Luckily, we’re not in for some Madchester antics and the song slides gracefully into another deceptively catchy heartbroken lament. “I think you’re waiting on a miracle / But don’t think it’s ever too late / A miracle will come if you wait” goes the chorus, and yes, that’s a tear forming in our eye, what of it?

Verdict: Arthur Conan Doyle

10. ‘Melt’ – One of the oddest tracks on the album, ‘Melt’ starts with weird synth sounds before slowly transforming into another mid-paced ballad, complete with a rather lovely swooning chorus. Towards the end it shifts gear again to become an almighty singalong.

Verdict: Enid Blyton

11. ‘Lorna Doone’ – Lorna Doone is both a book by R. D. Blackmore and also a type of shortbread biscuit. We’re not sure which one Mystery Jets are referencing, but we’d like to assume it’s the biscuit. This is a rather moody affair given what’s gone before and features more dissonant and spiky sounds in comparison. Frankly, we prefer them when they’re being fun, but it’s not bad enough to ruin what’s gone before and that’s the main thing.

Verdict: Patricia Cornwell

Overall Verdict: Whilst there’s nothing on Serotonin to rival the best bits of Twenty One, it does continue Mystery Jets’ evolution into one of the finest guitar-pop bands in the country. As with Super Furry Animals, they seem destined to be loved by a few and forgotten by the masses, which is a shame because they sure do know their way around a hook or twelve.

Arthur Conan Doyle

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2 responses to “First Listen: Serotonin by Mystery Jets

  1. Pingback: First Listen « A blog about music.

  2. Pingback: New Music Monday « A blog about music.

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