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- Mystery Jets »
As the lights go down and the portentous weight of Handel's Sarabande thunders through the darkness, newbies could be forgiven for expecting a prog-rock display of epic, unsmiling proportions. It's not long before any such illusions are shattered noisily.
So far, Mystery Jets' quaint peculiarities - an island HQ, father-son relations within the band and a definite sense of the pastoral - have been painted lavishly by fans and critics alike. The uninitiated might anticipate hippy vibes and po-faced pretension, but Mystery Jets' oddness serves the music, rather than commanding it. Above all, they're fun - catchy, intoxicating and impossibly optimistic, in unexpected ways. Pedestrian chord changes are ousted in favour of race-to-the-finish-line musical sprees and clamorous harmonising - all of which clings to one's mind as firmly as any clean-cut chorus. Current single 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis' is instant and glorious, and the jackhammer bassline of the decidedly untremulous 'On A Trembling Day' delivers a hell of a kick to the collective head. 'Alas Agnes', meanwhile, twists the Libertines-spawned self-mythologizing urban shanty with some much-needed pop drama and surreality. It's as boisterous as it is charming, and as snappy as it is imaginative.
Amid the scenery of hung carpets and a canopy of light-bulbs that DiS suspects were thieved from the banks of the Thames, Mystery Jets' sense of theatrical mania leaves no room for tweeness or navel-gazing. Their frantic rhythm section, texturised by Blaine Harrison's array of scrap percussion, plunges the room into a feeling of carnival, spontaneous party, even bacchic frenzy, as an impromptu chorus of forty or so fans rush the stage and seize instruments. Forget the increasingly weary contrivances of a year of guerrilla gigs in trees, subways and zebra crossings; Mystery Jets prove that within the confines of four walls, rock 'n' roll can still be dynamic, hopeful and mercifully cliché-free.
Photograph by Josh Hall
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