This “Radlands” album is the first album recorded outside UK, as the Mystery Jets singer Blaine Harrison has talked of how the band decided their fourth album should be made in “the furthest place from everything we knew”. They recorded the album in Texas, and if you think about Texas and see the cover album “Radlands” you will obviously think about : ““oh God, Mystery Jets have made a country album!”. But, actually it’s just a cover album, not the musicality. The Texas picture at the front cover does not merely mark a change in musical direction. They’re still a Mystery Jets!
But, you can’t say if they’re not changed at all. They’ve previously been besotted with 1980s-flavoured synth riffs (on their 2008 hit Two Doors Down, or their work with The Count & Sinden) but the album Radlands reveals a surprising Americana affair.
If you say Mystery Jets, it’s always interesting to discuss about the departure of its bassist, Kai Fish. As dramatic exits go, Kai Fish’s departure from Mystery Jets on the eve of their fourth album’s release had all the terrible flair of a teenager slamming the door on a startled parent. The Eel Pie Islanders’ charismatic bassist won plaudits with his solo effort from last year, Life in Monochrome, and, perhaps enjoying the taste of freedom that record afforded, opted to call it quits with his band of seven years at the beginning of April.
To accompany this musical backing, Mystery Jets have created a rather affecting story that, despite their previous prog-rock leanings, is their first actual concept album. The narrative concerns a guy called Emerson Lonestar, “a wandering musician who travels the badlands of America going from one disastrous relationship to another.” Mystery Jets prove themselves to be adept at the form, the story dipping and peaking alongside the old nag as you ride a long with poor Emerson as he travels from a brothel to a church to the tropical vibrations of ‘Take Me Where The Roses Grow’.