Reviewed by Eugenia Vela.
There aren’t many songs that will cause a first-time listener to stop what they’re doing and just listen. I was playing Serotonin, the U.K.-based Mystery Jets’ latest album, while a friend was getting ready for a party. Many know that women aren’t easily interrupted while putting on their makeup or picking out an outfit. But in the middle of the first track, “Alice Springs” my friend came out of the bathroom and asked me, “What’s that you’re listening to?” I told her, and she sat down and listened to the rest of the album with me, half-dressed, eyeliner in hand.
The band’s third album is a hodgepodge of influences, drawing from The Who and Pink Floyd with a more modern The Thrills/Bloc Party twist. Mystery Jets managed to release a collection of songs that are eclectic not only in style, but in purpose. It can be dance music, but it can also be everything else. It could be from the ’60s, but it’s also ’80s. And even though it’s music that appears to be nostalgic, the band’s clearly trying to be on the path to the future.
Serotonin remains interesting throughout each track because even though successfully cohesive, each song is a well-told story, insight to another world, another time. There’s dreamy charm in “Show Me The Light,” while “Dreaming of Another World” is a glance at a mid-afternoon haze. The intro of “Waiting On A Miracle” has so much tension and strength it becomes a throwback to psychodelic rock with a dash of paranoia, but then the beginning of “Melt” seems sweet and airy, like a ride at Coney Island on a summer afternoon.
Serotonin is full of fantasy, like much of good music is. The listener travels to where the band travels—thanks to their simple beats and catchy (but not annoying) lyrics, and the modern yet comprehensive style that keeps indie pop alive and strong.
But however charming this album is, it’s still stuck at a crossroads of predictability and potential—Serotonin is well worth your while, but it won’t change your life. It won’t make you think the Mystery Jets have unleashed a brand new sound or make you think there’s no other band that could do what they did. Within their talent and the likability of their music still lies a formula—did they achieve some sort of success? Yeah, they did. You could believe that my previously mentioned friend falling instantly in love with it was because the album is so great it stops you in your tracks. But remember, this isn’t always a good thing—one must come to wonder: Is it because it’s so damn good, or because its appeal is commercial? Should music be universal and simple, or should it require multiple listens and close observation for appreciation? I guess that’s up to the listener. Serotonin is a great listen—just don’t expect to be blown away.
Mystery Jets | Serotonin | Rough Trade | Release: July 13, 2010 | Rating: 6.5 of 10