mystery jets

Album Review: Serotonin - Mystery Jets

If Twenty One threw a splash of eighties passion on the prog-rock experimentalism of the Mystery Jets' debut then Serotonin, with it's Talk Talk-esque cover, is an eighties-soaked emotional Molotov cocktail.

The trade-off is most apparent on second track 'It's Too Late', the first proper ballad the band have ever indulged in. And an indulgence it is - one that has turned off some reviewers and may alienate some older fans. How you feel about this one track will probably affect much of your view of Serotonin itself - it's either an unimaginative mainstream retread or, in it's unashamed honesty and willingness to leave aside unnecessary agendas, an irresistible emotional anchor for the album that lets the boys love for the eighties bask in centre stage.

And maybe BlackPlastic is just a sucker for a romantic agenda, but we can't help but plum for the latter. To accuse Serotonin of lacking variety would be fair, yet the result is an album that feels in many ways even tighter than its predecessor if less exciting. From the running-so-fast-you-might-trip opening of 'Alice Springs', with its rousing chorus of "I'd stand in the line of fire for you / I'd bend over backwards for you / I'd do anything that you want be to do / 'cos I don't have nothing if I don't have you my love" this is an album wearing its heart on its sleeve:

Sometimes some people love some other people. And the Jets have clearly fallen head over heels somewhere along the line because every song on here deals with this most basic of emotions in one way or another.

On the whole it's a storming success - the beauty being in the variety of takes on love that the album illustrates. 'Flash A Hungry Smile' is bumbling and hopeless bare-cheeked lust. Title track 'Serotonin' feels like coming up from underwater - the drugs analogy is obvious but BlackPlastic will place faith in the reality being that this song is noting the similarity of love to drugs, and celebrating the former's natural ability to mimic the latter rather than the other way round.

Best of all is 'Show Me The Light' - a celebratory anthem-to-be complete with bouncing house beat. It's the sound of boundless enthusiasm: sure, things may not work out... But then, they might, right? It's so blinkered and keen that it's bloody difficult not to be won over.

Serotonin may feel like a curveball after the maturity and relative subtlety of Twenty One. It is certainly less ambitious but it's inability to do anything other than express just how much it has a crush on you is pretty charming. If you've ever gone a bit gooey over someone you may find it tough to resist the feeling of Serotonin.

BP x

Serotonin is out now on Rough Trade, available from on CD, LP and MP3 [affiliate links].

News: Diesel launching online music radio station

Over the summer Diesel's online online radio station, first launched last year, has returned, broadcasting 24/7 for two six weeks over the summer.  It's online now and will be broadcasting until 24 June, returning for another six weeks on 18 September.  Have a listen in the player above - the schedule has included turns from DJ Hell, Zombie Nation, Matt Walsh, the Mystery Jets and Erol Alkan and Richard Norris' Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve project.

BP x

Five Non-Electronic Albums of the Year

Lists of the year are lame, everyone knows it and yet everyone loves reading and writing them. Given that there is very little else to right about at this time of year it makes sense to take the time to take stock.

2008 has been, without doubt, a vintage year for music. The number of fantastic albums released within the first few months is testament to that, especially when the pace didn't let up all year.

This is the first of four separate lists - generally BlackPlastic concerns itself with electronic music but there have been some fantastic releases outside of this area. Here are the five best non-electronic albums from 2008:

5. Dear Science - TV On The Radio

BlackPlastic is still not sure this trumps Return To Cookie Mountain but what is does do is snap, crackle and pop with sheer verve and ambition. Cookie Mountain may win out on emotional depth and angsty retribution but Dear Science is a sign of the times bill board for a generation's confusion at the state of the world. This is a celebration of our times - the problems may seem insurmountable but our achievements also seem to be getting greater every day.

4. Stay Positive - The Hold Steady

Like a rowdy night on the sauce The Hold Steady's 2008 release is an exciting and heady rush that feels like you just don't care any more.  Never less than thoroughly charming Stay Positive is like the badly behaved friend that everyone seems to find too endearing to ever get offended by.  This record is an absolute ball with the emotional journey of a buddy-movie-road-trip. Grab yourself some ice 'n' bourbon and slam this on the jukebox.

3. Falling Off The Lavender Bridge -Lightspeed Champion

Fresh out of the energetic yet nihilistic Test Icicles, Dev Hynes was left directionless and drifting. Lavender Bridge is the sound of recovery and growth. A fantastically timeless record that mixes a mature-yet-contemporary country sound with lyrics that reference crunk. A record to be hung-over and to feel sorry for yourself to.

2. Twenty One - Mystery Jets

Destined to top this list right up until the last month or so when the actual number one won over BlackPlastic's heart, Twenty One is still a fantastic record.  From the opening air-raid siren of Hideaway to the closing piano refrain of the ghost track (the source of the album's title) and its Joy Division referencing lyrics ("even Love Will Tear Us Apart don't ease the pain" - what a line) there is never a dull moment.

Already criminally overlooked in most end of year lists this album has it all - whether the emotional gravitas of 'Flakes' or the sheer pop ambition (not to mention the best use of a saxophone in years) of 'Two Doors Down', Twenty One is a glorious record that is destined to age like fine wine.  A proof not just of producer Erol Alkan's ability but also that Mystery Jets are one of this country's finest.


1. For Emma, Forever Ago - Bon Iver

One of those records that it was all too easy to miss at the time it is now getting some of the attention it deserves. The basic facts everyone seems to love to repeat:

  • The band name would mean 'good winter' in french if it was spelt correctly.
  • This is actually a chap called Justin Vernon.
  • The album is the result of Vernon's break-up with the eponymous Emma and his previous band.
  • The sound that ensues is what happened following this breakdown, a bout of sickness and a winter in a log cabin in Wisconsin.

Now that the above is out of the way, here is what is important: This record is absurdly beautiful, in a 'clinging to the edge of this spinning chunk of rock as we hurtle through space' type way - just listen to the thrum that builds in 'Creature Fear', it sounds like life itself.

It's difficult to do the songs on this short little record justice because the sound of this album transcends anything that can be put into words - For Emma, Forever Ago is all the longing and regret that gets pushed down in our daily lives erupting like rainbow coloured magma on a background of snow and ice.  It is the perfect soundtrack to winter days.  It is the soundtrack to nights on the bourbon with the fire raging.  It is the words BlackPlastic would never be able to find to convey what goes on behind these eyes.

This is probably not just the best record this year, but one of the best records this decade.