Er… not quite. To put it lightly. Three things happened: the album flopped (peaking at #42 in the charts, and this was after a rapid re-release cashing in on the success of ‘Two Doors Down’); it was revealed to be not very good at all (looking back we can say that it didn’t stand a chance of sounding impressive two months down the line, never mind two years); and they were subsequently dropped by 679 Recordings. Ouch.
Fast forward a little, however, and you’ll find that things are most definitely looking up. Backed by Rough Trade Records, the group have renewed focus, and have managed to get things right, second time around. ‘Serotonin’ pretty much corrects all of ‘Twenty One”s mistakes. The lead single doesn’t begin to grate after only a few listens, for starters; in fact, ‘Dreaming of Another World’ soon establishes itself as one of the highlights, the perfect combination of their recently-discovered pop sensibilities and brilliant songwriting. Take that, ‘Young Love’ - guest spot for Laura Marling or not, as MC Hammer said, you can’t touch this.
The opener and closer do a fine job of consigning ‘Hideaway’ and ‘Behind the Bunhouse’ to the history books. Now, the former was actually rather good, easily the standout on the woefully sub-par second album, but ‘Alice Springs’ is on another level entirely. It’s positively steeped in drama and emotion, containing an impassioned chorus: ‘I’d stand in the line of fire for you; I’d bend over backwards for you; I’d do anything that you want me to do, because I don’t have nothin’ if I don’t have you in my life - and it only hurts because it’s true’. This is the kind of song that tugs at the heartstrings with little effort. Going cinematic does have its benefits, you know.
At the business end, ‘Lorna Doone’ is a slow-burning, lighters-aloft anthem that shows Mystery Jets stepping well outside their comfort zone. The mid-tempo track is the perfect closer: brilliant hook, great structure and as passionate as they come. There’s room for a few more of these in the band’s discography; no doubt about that.
These two aren’t the only epics on offer, though: ‘Waiting for a Miracle’ contains a brilliant noise-laden hook, which (sadly) isn’t exploited much further. This is the only gripe with the song, however, as all other necessary boxes are ticked - in under four minutes. Concise much?
The chirpy waltz of ‘Melt’ is an unexpected treat, driven by some simple yet stunningly effective drumming courtesy of Kapil Trivedi, and boasting a simply irresistible chorus that’s sure to have the female contingent of their fanbase swooning: ‘All I wanna do is melt into you’. Careful now!
Some of the hooks present on ‘Serotonin’ are huge bordering on imposing. The title track and ‘Show Me the Light’ are really quite a pair, each getting their groove on with some disco overtones, and the most euphoric tracks on offer. The triptych of songs formed with ‘Dreaming of Another World’ is a run of perfect pop, plain and simple.
‘Too Late to Talk’ will win over fans of earnest balladry, and ‘Lady Grey’ will please the ‘Two Doors Down’ fans, in that it is a similarly bright and summery song - but a great deal better. Its chorus of ‘Will you still love me in the morning?’ is every bit as infectious as ‘I think I’m in love with a girl who lives two doors down’, but, as mentioned, far less likely to get on one’s nerves.
Fans of ‘Making Dens’ may be disappointed to find that ‘Serotonin’ is a further step away from the sound of their debut, but the new record is one that eventually wins people over whether they want it to or not, so we’d certainly like to see them try to resist songs as good as these. Third time’s the charm.
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