It's worth pointing out, as a mild preamble to the main course, that Twenty One is being called such things as a marked departure for Mystery Jets... A maturing of their sound. Without wishing to let the cat out of the bag, let's just say this is a good record. But let us also take a moment to note that Making Dens, the album it follows, is far better than many would have you believe. 'Can't Fool Me Dennis' is beautiful pop and 'Horse Drawn Cart' makes progressive rock sound accessible and is certain to inspire empathy. What's more, 'Soluble In Air' is the sound of fresh, youthful, unrequited love... Boundless in enthusiasm and impossible to criticize or rationalize. Far too many folk have written this album off and to do so is foolish.
Twenty One wastes no time now it is finally here... 'Hideaway' starts the precedings with an air raid siren and the type of bassline the Klaxons would be proud of. It's a desperate yelp of a record, a lover spurned and frantic to set things right. Lead single, 'Young Love' still has cult-classic written all over it, capturing the curious affection of a stranger's infactuation perfectly with Laura Marling's vocals adding a further layer of class.
Every track here can justify its own comments but in a bid to save some surprises for the listener we shall merely highlight a few. The eighties touches present on 'Half In Love With Elizabeth' take the song to a whole new place following the rough edits that leaked last year whilst 'Flakes' is still nothing less than a beautiful, heart-stopping ballad that melts away in the head. Totally irresistably, 'Two Doors Down' is an eighties pop song recreated perfectly and is Twenty One's own 'Soluble In Air': romantic and unstoppable, you know if you lived two doors down from the Mystery Jets you wouldn't stay single for long, such is the determination on show here.
Erol Alkan's production shines through on this album and he truly demonstrates his worth. Whether it is in the shimmers that break through the melodies on 'Young Love' or the eighties stabs of 'Two Doors Down' he brings something new to the mix. More importantly he never fails to use the lightest of touches. Nothing here gets even remotely close to being a gimick, which ensures the record maintains a timeless sound.
The other reviews are right when they argue that Twenty One is a mature record. Where they are wrong is in their assertions that Making Dens wasn't and equally that this album is anything less than excellent.