To explain the sound of UK outfit Mystery Jets, take a slick ’80s post-punk band, much like The Cure, and mix it with the kind of imagery reminiscent of a Brett Easton Ellis novel. Produced by the legendary, Chris Thomas, who has been involved with The Sex Pistols, The Pretenders and even The Beatles, Serotonin‘s polished sound is certainly a throwback to the glory days of synth driven pop. Familiar though that aesthetic may be, the album touches on the best aspects of that signature ’80s pop sound, most notably anthem-like choruses, like the album’s opener “Alice Springs,” which uses countless vocal harmonies and lyrics that dabble in self pity to create an interesting sing-along love song.
“Flash a Hungry Smile” is a definite highlight and is more reminiscent of that signature Mystery Jets sound that astounded critics on the first release, Making Dens. But barring a few exceptions, each song is essentially a carbon copy of the one that preceded it. Don’t get me wrong, these are obviously well crafted pop songs, but that certain formula gets repetitive when taking the album in as a whole. The album’s first single, “Dreaming of Another World” is one of the few songs that doesn’t sound like a typical Mystery Jets song. In fact, it sounds more like a Peter Bjorn and John song (without the whistling) and is the best song the second side has to offer.
Mystery Jets, more specifically, Blaine Harrison and father Harrison, have crafted a well produced but formulaic album, soaked in a synth-driven nostalgic pop sound we’ve seen many times over, even more so now that the 1980s are a distant memory. The band does create a few gems throughout the album that are worth a listen, but the album as a whole doesn’t manage to sustain the same overall captivating effect.
XTC – Black Sea
The Cure – Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand