Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Mystery Jets at Scala


It’s one thing noting the wonder of Mystery Jets’ second album through headphones; dazzlingly immediate choruses, complex arrangements and some damn fine lyricism. That’s not to say the hotchpotch eclecticism of 'Making Dens' has been lost, it’s just grounded itself a mite. At the sold-out Scala tonight, the band play a ‘Twenty One’ heavy set with niche zeitgeist Henry Harrison making an appearance in the encore to rapturous applause. Chants for ‘Zoo Time’ materialise sporadically – but the second album is a far more exciting prospect live even for the band’s undying hardcore, meaning that even when the chants are met it doesn’t feel like the end.

Let’s start from the beginning - the four/five-piece are fresh, uplifting and a joy to the ears if not necessarily the eyes. They open with ‘Hideaway’, contented grins and knowing nods abound. It’s the higher octane tracks like this that transfer best. The Aztec Camera pop of ‘Young Love’ without Laura Marling feels depleted, but the chugging drums predictably salvage the song from timbral repetition. They strive for Masters of the Slow-Build on ‘Behind The Bunhouse’ and ‘Veiled In Grey’ but the tenderer moments don’t quite carry through live. It’s difficult to pin down why this is the case - other than that the lack of less sparseness shows up just how Blaine’s vocals waver towards a whine (especially on the verses of ‘Hand Me Down’ live), and their use of the sampler isn’t quite on tip top form enough to meet the expectations of the new album.

As much as ‘The Boy Who Ran Away’ contains itself to the summer of a couple of years ago, it still has the unsullied energy it invoked upon first listen. And it feels so much sweeter aside Suede-gone-stadium anthem ‘Flakes’ and the glittering 80s ransack masterpiece ‘Two Doors Down’. On the latter, Mystery Jets encounter a few technical difficulties, false starts and a loss of momentum – which is just about overcome by the song rather than the band. But can the two be separated? It’s difficult but this seems to be the crux of reflection - the songs are joyous, undying, and never a truer purveyor of eclecticism. The atmosphere is buzzing; a saxophonist makes a cameo to prove it. But it feels like the band are playing catch-up with their boundless creativity, never quite running at the same speed. Perhaps if it was any other way they’d be needing tranquilisers, and it’s far from a disappointment, just a case where the criteria don’t lead up the result expected.

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