Thursday, 10 July 2008

Mystery Jets: Twenty One (Repackaged)

If you wanted to form a rock band,  surely the last person you'd want to join in with would be your Dad. However, that's exactly what young Blaine Harrison did, and whilst Henry is no longer touring with Mystery Jets, his influence is still apparent in the latest album.

It's always the case - we do take some musical influence from our parents. And whilst they might not like "yoof music", there's often a clear chain of music from parental favourites to the music us youngsters like. So, given a chance to influence an entire band, Henry's "prog stuff" favourites do appear.

Yet, with the less direct involvement, it's clear that the record is a development or a 'growing up'. Most of the tracks aren't listing as being written by Henry, the majority are by Blaine - sometimes with or without other members of the band.

There's two exceptions. One is the bonus track on the repackaged version of the album - a cover of Aztec Camera's Somewhere in my heart - and for once my tendency to wait a while before buying an album has proved very useful. It's a faithful cover, and very "get up and go", giving you a bit of enthusiasm.

The other is the still exceptional Young Love. Written by guitarist William Rees (who also takes lead vocals) and bassist Kai Fish, after being a TOTW it's still a very strong contender for the Tune of the Year prize.

Young Love also highlights the thing that struck me most from the album - harmonies. There it's with Laura Marling, but there's plenty of songs where you can probably say there's two lead singers, singing different lines of music to make a harmonised tune - instead of boring predictable backing singers. Half in Love with Elizabeth is possibly the best example I'd have of that.

As the NME review states, the previous failing with Mystery Jets was that were a bit ramshackle. Some great pop songs, some not so. To an extent, I'd say it continues here. Some brilliant tracks, but some duds. I don't like hidden tracks at the best of times, and having to listen to dead air to find Twenty One wasn't worth the wait at all. Even in the main album, I can't say I'm a big fan of Umbrellahead.

But, overall, there's a lot more good than bad. Memorable tracks like Two Doors Down (TOTW21) sit pleasingly alongside tracks that I can't imagine anyone could dislike like The first to know. When it's so difficult to achieve perfection, you can rarely ask for more than "Twenty One" offers.

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