Mystery Jets Radlands

Mystery JetsRadlands
Across the Atlantic, it's fashionable for 20-something, guitar-wielding males high on machismo to seek popular approval as the de facto "voice of a generation." Unlike big-hitters Arctic Monkeys and Oasis, UK bands such as the Libertines flourished not with kitchen-sink observation, but a convincingly romantic take on quintessential Englishness, informed by the poems of William Blake. Chasing a similar vision are Eel Pie Island's Mystery Jets, whose continued existence points to a vast following that always stretched beyond the band's parochial scene. It's been tough, mind you. Since eccentric debut Making Dens, the now-quartet have shed two key members ― namely Kai Fish and singer Blaine Harrison's dad, Henry ― and jettisoned the oddball quirk in favour of straight love songs and presentable major-key anthems. Sadly, despite flashes of brilliance, fourth record Radlands more often finds Mystery Jets operating on autopilot. Seventies psych-out "The Hale Bop" occupies a bizarre universe where sentimental guff like, "Yeah I heard that you were back on the streets/Where love is blind and talk is cheap" still cuts the mustard, but it rounds off neatly with the kind of dual-meaning drug couplet that redeemed previous effort "Serotonin": "I'll satisfy you right through the night/And when it's over I'll still hold you tight." Elsewhere, flimsy metaphors and cliché run amok like weeds in Radlands' psychedelic garden, and without the fiery, sharp-eyed wit of yore, you fear Mystery Jets' best is but a small blip fading into the distance. (Beggars Group)