Mystery Jets

Curve Of The Earth

Written by: TL on 19/01/2016 14:28:29

London's Mystery Jets are perhaps not the most famous of England's many indie rock bands, yet the group has kept churning out albums for over ten years now, arriving at their sixth this year in "Curve Of The Earth", their second to be reviewed here following 2012's "Radlands". On this new album, the band offers a highly atmospheric indie rock sound, steeped in similar folk/psych/retro elements as something you'd expect from the Americans in Band Of Horses or My Morning Jacket, yet simultaneously exuding a distinct brit rock-ness akin to that of countrymen like The Horrors or The Maccabees.

The main quality of "Curve Of The Earth" lies in Mystery Jets' elaborate instrumentation and production, which is full of small dynamics, details and grooves that feel familiar yet lively, engaging the ear in a soft but insistent manner. It's the kind of thing you quickly find yourself swaying and bopping casually to, should you put the album on during housekeeping efforts, or if you happen to hear it while browsing in a hip clothing store on an off day. The band frequently deploys keyboard-, organ- and electronic sounds, giving their elegant old-school vibes an updated tone, yet it is often the guitar playing that steps forward, injecting tasteful licks to make timely contrast with the vocal parts and compositions at large.

The vocals, however, sung mainly by frontman Blaine Harrison, are more of an acquired taste. He sings with a laid back, often introspective thoughtfulness, yet also with a somewhat narrow and frequently shrill tone. This sums up into somewhat typical British indie parts, that have a rather small charisma, which either struggles to measure up to the soulful instrumentation, or isn't really trying in the first place - As if Mystery Jets remaining sort of a minor league name for some years has lead to them not really bothering with trying to win everyone over, or to really draw anyone into the lyrical reflections of their songs.

The record plays as an album that actually starts out promising some measures of dreamy adventure, via the prickly guitar part, dramatic opening keys and elated vocal ascensions of "Telomere", forging on with a nice contrast via lullaby-ish verse and crackling guitar riffs in "Bombay Blues", and arriving at a nice and energetic tempo after some good build-up and an exciting bit of keyboard riffage in "Bubblegum". Sadly, much of the rest of the runtime feels like it glides by at sort of a lazy, drifting pace, which admittedly feels conceptually wholesome, yet simultaneously somewhat disinteresting.

The guitar once again comes to the rescue in a rather pleasing way midway through the balladry of "1985", yet moments like these eventually summon some mild frustration if you listen to "Curve Of The Earth" without distractions, because you hear the richness of the instrumentation and feel kind of disappointed that it rarely comes together in something more fully exhilarating. This makes the record feel more suited as an atmospheric background listen for other, not too attention-demanding activities, so you can glide in and out of it as it calls for it, without feeling that sense of disappointment from the album not being more than it is.

Download: Bubblegum, Bombay Blues, Telomere, 1985
For The Fans Of: My Morning Jacket, Band Of Horses, The Horrors, The Maccabees
Listen: facebook.com/mysteryjets

Release date 15.01.2016
Caroline International

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