Time for my experimental third album review and I have gone with a very recent and mostly unknown album.
Purchase and Packaging
The album was released at the end of January 2016 and I first heard about it from the NME (which is now free) review. I had never heard of Mystery Jets but the review claimed it was a “well rounded album” and maybe early contender for “album of the year”, they also compared its sound to that of ELO (I don’t agree with this to be honest). So I gave it a listen on Spotify. I was that impressed it went straight on the list of vinyl records to buy.
As vinyl records are a physical media and therefore benefit from been sold in a real shop, it’s only right to help and support your local record store. With that in mind I visited Reflex and found this for £22.
The album is not a double album but like a lot of recent records it comes on 2 LPs. I’m not a fan of a normal length album split across two vinyl records, you only get 2 or 3 tracks per side and then you have to flip the record. Yes it may give better sound quality but I really don’t think it adds that much. If I compare this album’s sound quality to Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon there is nothing in it and that’s only one vinyl record. Maybe this can be explained by the amount of bass on newer recordings as I think they need wider/deeper grooves in the vinyl to get more bass (don’t quote me on this though). Other albums I have that suffer from this problem include Oasis – Definitely Maybe and Radiohead – Ok Computer.
Like other albums that I have only listened to on my iPhone through on-ear headphones, the step up to vinyl on a decent sound system is impressive. This album delivers the idea of an album as a whole and not just a collection of songs. It has a great flow and you can tell the band has spent time deciding on the order of the tracks. As an example it starts strong with “Telomere” but then gets better with “Bombay Blue” it then seems to bring you down with the next two tracks, if it was a single LP this would be the end of side one. Side two follows suit with two great starting tracks which are preceded by tracks designed to bringing you down by the end with the aptly named “The End-Up”. This is a technique that you can see employed on many great prog rock and psychedelic albums of the 1970s i.e. Led Zeppelin IV.
The sound is broad and there is lots going on. You have guitar solos, repeating and looping guitar riffs, deep bass to add depth and synthesisers to add that psychedelic quality. There are epic sounds in most tracks and also quiet moments with just an acoustic guitar and singing. The band don’t seem to be afraid to mix things up to give each track a random quality, it never feels like verse, chorus and repeat. At times i’m not sure if i’m listening to a rock album or a dance album, then it flips and changes. It really is a musical party to the ears.
Stand out tracks include “Bombay Blue” and “Blood Red Balloon”, which has a weak start but just builds and builds as it goes on, I feel really disappointed when it actually finishes as I could listen to if for longer. To be honest though there isn’t a weak track on the whole album.
Like most new albums however it suffers from way to much bass. Im not sure if this is down to the vinyl itself or the recording process. I end up turning the bass right down and the treble right up on the amp just to get a clear balance of sound. This is a harsh criticism of the album though as I think this is wide spread on more recent music and not just here.
It is a short album. I have the feeling this could be because they didn’t want any filler tracks. They have tried to keep the quality up and therefore the run time may have been affected.
The album as a whole has a lot of influence from Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon, not just the cover and album title but the sound also. If you are a fan of Dark Side of the Moon give this album a try. Yes it never reaches those highs but it’s nice to see that type of record still being made.
I feel that this review is overly critical at times but I really do love this album. It’s the first recent album that is trying to recreate a by gone era of record making from the 70s. As vinyl is becoming popular again I hope more bands step up and create more experimental albums like this.