The so called happy hormone provides the title that binds Mystery Jets' third album together...though trying to decipher the levels at which the band's general Serotonin
is firing at depends on what you're ultimately listening for. On paper singer Blaine Harrison is a mopey mess indeed, walking through what feels like a typical breakup cycle over the course of the album's eleven cuts. Album opener "Alice Springs" sets the scene of the tragedy to follow ("Better to have loved and lost than to have lived and never loved anyone"). A little more buildup ensues in the form of "Too Late To Talk", with the twenty something singer appearing fresh out of luck by the time "The Girl is Gone" rolls around. What follows is pretty typical, and if experienced through Harrison's pen alone, pretty uninspiring. That's Ok. Chalk any slight in poetics up to a heart running on empty, I suppose. Plus, there are other things worth reveling in when it comes to this recording.
Though the band's debut apparently worshipped at the altar of Syd Barrett, any sort of psyched out approach is hard to hear on Serotonin
. Instead the English outfit jump a decade, trading in their former prog tendencies for the pop punk riddled delicacies of the eighties...an appropriate reality considering producer Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, Pulp, The Pretenders, INXS) handled the twisting of the knobs on this one. With their instruments the band mask Harrison's lyrical deficiencies, carving up a sound that is actually a slender bit of fun. "Show Me the Light" is the album's highlight, with the band seemingly doing their best impression of the Talking Heads. That means fast acting sing-a-longs, interesting percussive sputters, and glitzy dabs of synth penetrating the mix. The aforementioned "The Girl Is Gone" plays like a perfect soundtrack, and yes, I'm thinking of John Hughes here. It's plucky keys and buoyant bass line gets slurped up in a perfect wash of glassy vocals. Near the end of the collection, "Melt" provides something similar to The Shins; slower mid tempos, with a pleasant chorus about melting into you.
The only track that really mirrors' Harrison's melancholy is "Too Late To Talk". It leads with a smooth slice of piano, and then drops into the soft lilt of a lonesome balladeer. It's a tone that, I'm sad to say, reminisces of Styx or Air Supply...but maybe that's the point. I can currently count several friends who are all over this stuff as of late (you know who you are).
All of which means this is ultimately a peppy recording of sad and sorry songs...a possible identity crisis of sorts. But isn't that the thing about romantic failures as well? They are tumultuous, sending the heart on a pretty wicked ride. Either way, it's a total Serotonin
rush. - David Pitz
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MP3: "Show Me The Light"
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