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Mystery Jets, Somerset House, London


Mystery Jets' apparent popularity has always been rather confusing.

They skittered to haphazard prominence on the back of two fairly iffy albums and the brief, bewildering popularity of geezerish entry-level indie a few years ago. I'd assumed that they'd packed it in along with the rest of the mockney, jangle-pop scene. I was wrong; they've survived, and they're blasting back with a glossy third album and a high-profile show at a national monument.

For all the beauty of our neo-classical environs, for all the lovely pink-lit plinths and clear skies, the sound quality leaves an awful lot to be desired. Everything sounds watery, and a poor PA and naff outdoor acoustics render the songs glutinous and indistinct. For a band that relies so heavily on clarity for impact, it bodes ill.

Much of the trouble is that there's nothing on display tonight to suggest Mystery Jets have managed to transcend their indie-makeweight status. The band plonks away with commendable gusto, but nothing can hide the simple fact that the new songs have no more panache or presence than the old ones.

These days, music like this – even though it's not quite five years old – sounds like it's beaming in from another era. It's old hat, a relic of the bad old days of the mid 2000s. Despite the 1980s lounge-pop stylings of their more recent output, things are all, dare I say it, a bit Razorlight.

It looks as though they've steamed ahead with the Phil Collins-isms of their second album for their just-released third. They've added a liberal pinch of A-ha to the mix, and there are a few arresting melodies on the table, but it's mostly too similar, too forgettable.

Even the handful of good songs they've managed to amass come tumbling out in an artless mess. That might be the PA's fault, of course, but in honesty they don't offer enough as a band to suggest they deserve a show with the prestige of Somerset House.