Mystery Jets Mystery JetsSerotonin
Blaine Harrison has always promised more than he’s actually delivered as the leader of a band that seems more like an attempt to let the kid do what he wants to once and for all (which is to stop beating his drum for the sole purpose of imitating Dave Grohl) than a real band (Blaine got his father and his best friend to join him in a first bizarre project called Misery Jets, which didn’t go any further than a project since Blaine was barely 12 years old then, more or less the same age as his best friend, William Rees). In any case, Blaine got his wish around 2006 and, with a little name change for the band (which went from Misery Jets to Mystery Jets, in honour of the airplanes that fly through the sky over Eel Pie Island, the bucolic place where the Harrisons live), they put out their first album, an irregular power pop treatise (which ranged from psychedelic to more mainstream punk) called “Making Dens”. How curious. One year earlier, right when Mystery Jets was starting to be a little more than a meeting of father, son, and a friend of the son, Pete Doherty released the first Babyshambles album. And what did “Making Dens” sound like? Like an attempt to take advantage of the aftershock of the earthquake that Doherty had just caused.
Two years later the second attempt arrived: “Twenty One”, which was a bit less blurry than the previous album (the intentions were clear: to keep polishing this sort of danceable pop that was increasingly similar to that of Franz Ferdinand, a less elegant, dirtier version) but still six steps away from the major leagues. And what has happened with their third effort? “Serotonin”, the album at hand, is first of all an exercise in maturity for good-boy Blaine. Having declared his independence (Henry left the live shows, although he continues to collaborate on the records) and accepted their position in the charts (they tried, but they have never become as hyped as they expected to be, or to be fair, capitalizes in sales terms on the hype they did generate), Blaine is no longer satisfied with opening for the Arctic Monkeys. Now, he puts out albums that deserve better scores, even though they might not be well-rounded. Although they don’t stand out for anything special (although "Flash A Hungry Smile", a song that reminds one a great deal of their debut, or the psychedelic "You Can't Fool Me Dennis", do stand out in their own way, like the song that gives its name to the album, the electrifying "Serotonin"), the album offers more than its predecessors. To start with, a great beginning ( "Alice Springs" is to Arcade Fire as The Drums is to The Smiths), and the most lyrical closing of their career ( "Lorna Doone"). Add to this a little of The National (who are surely among the bands that inspired the stupendous "Show Me the Light") and the broken glass of "Lady Grey", the cut where Harrison explores his wild side (as well as his sentimental side), and we have a modest pop cocktail with rock roots and a teen spirit.
So are we finally looking at the album that Blaine has been promising from the beginning? Almost. Without a doubt “Dreaming of Another World" could be less spacey and more substantial than it is, and "Melt" could lose itself a little less in the melancholy emptiness of the ballad with the restless drumsticks, and yes, “Waiting on a Miracle" could definitely be less insipid (Blaine repeats unceasingly that he has a presentiment, that he knows, yes, the miracle is on its way). But just listening to the third cut on the album, the catchy "The Girl Is Gone", is all it takes to admit that although it’s all about uncontrolled teen spirit, Blaine is less and less just another ordinary guy. He’s polishing those rough edges and getting comfortable with a sound that, sooner or later, will start to sound (only) like Mystery Jets. Give it time.