This Mystery Jets article was written by Gemma Parkes, a GIGsoup contributor
If you’ve been wondering about Mystery Jets whereabouts, the Eel Pie Island gang have been quietly tucked away recording their new album in a disused button factory in East London – perhaps one of the only buildings in the area that hasn’t been converted into a gentrified hipster cafe, charging a fiver for a cornflake doused in craft beer.
Mystery Jets self-produced fifth studio album, ‘Curve of the Earth’ marks a twenty-year milestone for the band who hit the big time during the indie wonder years of the mid-noughties. While many bands who had previously flourished didn’t quite survive the post-indie-golden-age, it’s a testament to Mystery Jets that they have continued to perform and write new music that represents a strong evolution of their sound.
Described as their “most personal and musically definitive record to date”, ‘Curve of the Earth’ explores unusual musical arrangements and fresh topics such as maturity, morality and retrospect. Lead single ‘Telomere’ taps straight into those ideas with the lyrics “where the cells reside splinter and divide they will never die”, explaining how in spite of death we always live on through our DNA and ancestry. The eerie piano lead track is thought provoking and like nothing they’ve done before.
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Laced with 80s electro pop influences, ‘Bubblegum’ is an apt name for this track. The upbeat verse is filled with vibrating electric guitars which expand into a contagious synth rhythm, eventually bursting into an anthemic chorus. Lead singer Blaine Harrison quotes Libby Gausden (an ex-girlfriend of Syd Barrett’s) with the lyric, “we’ll take a look around and see the me and you of every town”, expressing the feeling of being paralysed by memories and Blaine admits that ‘Bubblegum’ is “[his] chance to make peace with [past] ghosts, [giving] them a song to call home.”
The introduction of new bassist Jack Flanagan is most prominent on tracks, ‘Bombay Blue’ – a song driven by acoustics and a light-hearted funky bass line – and ‘Midnights Mirror’ which kicks-off with a dark, pulsating, continuous bass riff that’s brimming with 80s nostalgia.
‘Saturnine’ is exceptionally euphoric with dreamy swoons that move into a laid-back psychedelic groove. “So if the highs of youth have got you crashing down to Earth, it’s time to face the truth of your pain, your love, your hurt”, here William Rees (guitarist/vocal) uses the astrologic phenomenon of Saturn’s Return to explain the uncertain transition between his late twenties and early thirties, and “[finding] this strange sort of psychological space where [he] can live in limbo, neither child nor adult.”
‘1985’ is stripped to the bare bones, leaving Blaine’s emotive vocal exposed – it’s enchanting. Accompanied by a haunting piano his delicate voice will send chills down your spine; he sings “Saturn will you return us back to 1985? When we were just a spark in two young star-struck lovers’ eyes” returning to the nostalgic romanticisation of astrology.
On ‘Blood Red Balloon’, Blaine’s synthesised dusky vocal is backed by a subtle drum beat, interrupted by a strong and intricate guitar riff that sounds almost celestial. This track draws influences of the late David Bowie with its surreal elements and Pink Floyd with its extended instrumentals that feel like you’re completely lost in the universe.
The album is atmospheric, and much more grown up from the days of pining after teenage crushes on Twenty One’s, ‘Two Doors Down’. ‘Curve of the Earth’ is a constellation of experimental and mature tracks that approach one of lives hardest transitions in a completely magical, unique and intellectual way.
‘Curve of the Earth’ is out now via Caroline International