The Mystery Jets releasing their third album on as many labels, surely makes them some kind of indie nomads, no? The band have never sold many records in truth, its worth noting that their debut album Making Dens, peaked higher in the charts than its superior follow up Twenty One. So it's fortunate that the band now find themselves signed to indie patrons Rough Trade, the home of bands that never sell records and are not under immense pressure to do so. This could possibly be why Serotonin features far less instantly gettable tracks than its predecessors, instead occasionally opting for the slow build up, providing album tracks that retain the bands traditional pop credentials, while at the same time providing darker, brooding moments, devoid of that killer pop hook.
Opening track Alice Springs is a slight move away from the sound we've come to expect from Blaine Harrison and co. There's something stadium rock about its intro, the words 'freedom is an illusion generated by your brain/love is a taste you get on the tip of your tongue' are sung between powerful strums of the guitar and a scattering of power chords, before changing direction completely and submerging into a totally different beast altogether. It winds up sounding more like something from the Arcade Fire school of song writing than any of Mystery Jets more obvious influences.
Producer Chris Thomas (Roxy Music, Pink Floyd, Elton John) takes the reigns for Serotonin and his influence can be heard as early as second track Its Too Late. There are undoubtedly shades of old Reggie Dwight during the first verse of this charming piano ballad, as Blaine serenades us with 'you were the apple of my eye/did you take me on for fun or did you take me on for a ride?' Its undoubtedly one of the albums highlights and a notable change in the bands song writing style.
There are tracks on Serotonin that could fit on the bands previous albums with ease, and tick the box of the trademark Mystery Jets sound. The Girl is Gone is a perfect example of this, bursting to life with immediate effect, it could easily be single material, but ultimately lacks the ambition that the rest of the album shows. Tracks such as Lady Gray and Flash A Hungry Smile follow a similar formula but work far better due to superior choruses and melodies.
It's worth noting that there are no poor songs on Serotonin, just a few that fail to inspire, the likes of Melt and The Girls is Gone being the main culprits. However this shouldn't take away from, what is an impressive effort from the Mystery Jets. They've managed to mature their sound without losing the fun that was so integral to their previous work, while developing further dimensions to their sound.
This might not be an album packed to the rafters with singles in the same way its predecessors were, but what Serotonin instead offers, is a glimpse of a band pushing things forward, and in this case, its ultimately for the better.