This Mystery Jets article was written by Laura Dean, a GIGsoup contributor
Eel Pie Island’s odd assortment of musicians who called themselves Mystery Jets gave us an odd assortment of tracks in the form of their debut album ‘Making Dens’
When released in 2006 the music press was intrigued with lead singer/keyboardist Blaine Harrison and lead guitarist Henry Harrison. Henry is Blaine’s father and father-son duos are rare in popular music, let alone in indie circles. This only added to the eccentric nature of the band and although Henry decided to stop playing live with Mystery Jets before the release of their second album, Twenty One, he continued to be involved in studio and occasionally makes a return to the stage.
‘Making Dens’ is a curious album as no two tracks sound the same. Indie rubs shoulders with prog. Lo-Fi brushes past punk and everything has a pop sheen to it. ‘Zoo Time’ has a real post-punk feel to it, yet its minimal lyrics give it a slight folkie feel. Slow burner ‘Little Bag of Hair’ verges on haunting gothic as it explores the relationship between a caregiver and their bed-ridden patient. The knowledge that Blaine suffers from a spinal defect called Spina Bifida most definitely adds to the touching nature of the track.
Title track ‘Making Dens’ stand outs as it shares the lyrical style of the heart breaking ‘Little Bag of Hair’. A crescendo of instruments that accompany Blaine’s vocals throughout ‘Making Dens’ shows talent and vision that Mystery Jets had. Third single ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ shows their ability to create a rocker, as well as being able to pull at our heart string. Henry’s vibrant guitar and foot stomping is at the heart of this song. ‘Purple Prose’ is infectiously catchy and its inordinate guitar work, playful harmonies and enthusiastic nature all couple to make this a track to revisit again and again. The same can be said of jubilant ‘Alas Agnes’. A tale of unrequited love between a young man and a Transvestite sat in the back streets of Kings Cross that combines the tracks pulsating dynamism with the bands lyrical talent.
What marks Making Dens a strong debut is the overall feel of it. Producer James Ford’s penchant for layering, particularly in ‘Soluble In Air’ which incorporates a vast arsenal of instruments without making them sounding discordant. Each instrument is distinguishable and the introduction is divine! The sequencing of Making Dens is almost as good as the music itself, as each track flows beautifully into the next.
Mystery Jets initial hype was answered throughout ‘Making Dens’ with soaring compositions sitting next to subtle and subdued tracks. ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ is a fine example with the repetitiveness of the line ‘you can do anything you want, as long as it makes sense’. This line resonates with the album, as they did do what they wants and it made perfect sense!