The Mystery Jets have been a leading force in British indie scene since releasing their guitar-pop debut Making Dens, back in 2006. Channelling the oddity of Pink Floyd and the pop vibes of The Kinks, their music has always been a distinct sound and their latest album does not fail in continuing the sound. Recorded in a former button factory, the album is largely the result of lead singer, Blaine Harrison hibernating away in a cabin on the Thames Estuary in order to write. Clearly, the band continues to work with its reputation for creation and recording music in unusual places.
It has been nearly four years since the release of their American-infused, Texas-recorded forth album, Redlands, released back in 2012. Since then, bassist Jack Flanagan has joined the motley crew as a replacement for Kai Fish. But Curve Of The Earth is a great step back after the last album. Gone is the Americana; this is a shamelessly British record, a fact blatantly hinted at in their cover art, which resembles Dark Side Of The Moon. Instead of cowboy country, there are echoes of Pink Floyd’s psychedelia, The Beatles’ pop and King Crimson’s progressive rock through out the album.
The album’s lead single, Telomere, initiates the album marvellously. It is difficult to imagine that this is a band that were ever capable of creating a polished Radiohead sound when listening to this song. Blaine Harrison’s distinctive voice perfectly balances melancholy with grandeur, backed by a pulsating synthesizer and a simple yet effective piano melody.
Curve Of The Earth is a cosmic journey – it uses the space odyssey to lyrically capture abstract concepts such as life and nostalgia. This can be seen throughout the album – Telomere is just the start. The return of Saturn, an astrological concept that links the planet’s rotations with human emotions, is the topic of 1985, a mystical song that begins with a soft piano melody that explodes into a rollercoaster riff. Saturnine uses slow yet consistent drumming to back the distinctive guitar riffs and spontaneous piano entrances in order to explore the planet rotations. “Your world is turning / I can feel it turning away,” the chorus calls with a superb sonic effect.
The album nods more to 70s prog or psychedelia than the 00s indie pop that launched them into the public eye. It is a clear snapshot of how the band has grown during the last decade. Thus, it only seems fitting that the album finishes with Blaine cooing over the atmospheric guitar and warm synth in The End Up: “Won’t it be strange to see how we change when we’re all grown up?” It’s a reminder to listeners of how the band’s sound has developed and matured over the last decade.
Still, elements of their earlier indie sound can be found in the riffs and classically indie chorus of Bombay Blue, while wistful vocals, reverb-heavy hooks, and keyboard remain an essential part of the album, especially in Blood Red Balloon. The band may be maturing in their sound but their indie roots still shine through, a fact that will please many of the early fans of the band.
Mystery Jets recently claimed that the album is the result of rediscovering their band mentality and is their most personal to date. The album is clear evidence of this, for it sounds effortlessly smooth; the band are working wonderfully cohesively, producing one of their best albums to date. This is partly down to their maturing sound, but more, I think, down to the fact that it is an album full of good music. As Blaine crows in Saturnine: “We may not have tomorrow, but we’ll never fade away”. The band won’t last forever, but the music they have released certain will remain wonderful no matter.