Mystery Jets, Scala, London
Tuesday 29 April 2008
The Mystery Jets' second album, Twenty One, released earlier this year, was a milestone in the band's evolution from barely-out-of-school, try-hard popsters to colossi of the alternative scene. Aided by the remixing monarch Erol Alkan's generous daubings of 1980s pomp, their sound is now richer and more focused. They are also less kooky than before (the group famously hail from Twickenham's Eel Pie Island).
But it is live where their new confidence spreads its wings. They are a tribe of young gunslingers now that an earlier novelty, the bassist Henry Harrison (the father of Blaine Harrison, their lead singer) has left. That's not to say they're pretty: Blaine wants to look like Robert Smith, but more resembles Elizabeth Taylor.
They open with their most recent single, "Young Love", a song about one-night stands gone wrong, Harrison taking the place of Laura Marling (who appears on the record): "One night of love/ Nothing more, nothing less/ One night of love/ Has left my heart in a mess." And then: "You wrote your number on my hand/ And it came off in the rain." Two life lessons: grow up and carry a decent pen.
Highlights include "Behind the Bunhouse", the forthcoming single "Two Doors Down", and the early song "The Boy Who Ran Away". They don't really go in for banter, but their bouncy tunes are appealing, and the crowd sings along to the words. It is worth noting, though, that they are not, as the NME has described them, "a bit like Shane MacGowan picking the crumbs out of Merlin's beard on some seriously good speed".
For the encore, they play two tracks from their first album, Making Dens. For "You Can't Fool Me, Dennis", the single that propelled them out of south-west London into the wider consciousness, Henry bops on to the stage, much to the crowd's approval. The massed ranks, in the style of the song's video, point their fingers towards Henry with rage, crying, "You can't fool me, Dennis!" They might equally well have told him to get off the stage (if they weren't so polite), though, because the moral is: keep going, lads, and don't look back.
Touring to 21 June (www.mysteryjets.com)
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