Mystery Jets - Making Dens
Eel Pie Island sounds like an interesting place. In the River Thames near Twickenham, you can only get there by boat or by a footbridge that was only built in 1957. Last year comedian Danny Wallace attempted a coup, failing to take over the island and form his own country there. Doctor Who once lived there for a while, William Hartnell owning a house on the Island. It is also the home of Mystery Jets, who have used the island for a series of parties and to record some of this, their debut album.
The band itself was formed some 10 years ago, releasing two self financed EP's. Debut single "ZooTime" was released on Transgressive Records in 2005, limited to 500 copies. They were then snapped up by 679 Recordings, and have released a string of singles leading to this release. Each single has seen a progressively higher placing and more notoriety; fifth single "The Boy Who Ran Away" achieving a top thirty placing in the hit parade this February.
In some ways, Mystery Jets are an unusual band. For a start, the lead singers dad is the man on rhythm guitar, something I am sure does not happen often. They are also one of those bands that seem to live in their own private universe, with their own way of thinking and unique philosophy. They remind me very much of early Mansun, where everything seems linked and connected but at the same time, in a world of its own. Like Mansun's breathtakingly wonderful "Six", "Making Dens" really hangs together as a complete body of word, a perfectly sequenced album that you never want to just dip into. It deserves to be listened to as a whole, in one continuous sitting.
It is easy to see why "ZooTime" sold out so fast on its initial release. It is a staggering piece of music, which dips into and out of progressive rock and, dare I say it, even manages to sound like Rick Wakeman at one point. The bass halfway through is just sublime, the tap of the drum and the cleverness of the rhythm effortless. Stuff all this talk of banning Speigl's Radio 4 theme, they should play "Zoo Time" at 5:30am every morning on national radio - that'll get everyone out and ready to start the day. As a piece it leaves you breathless, superbly constructed and an outstanding performance.
It leads perfectly into "Little Bag of Hair", slowing the tempo down considerably. This touching song shuffles along with some great ideas and some fine, chiming guitar. "Diamond in the Dark" is a riotous stomp, full of snaps and handclaps. Drums and percussion are well used throughout - "You Can't Fool me Dennis", soon to be re-issued as a single, is a great example of this, the tempo shifting and exploding into sound. The last single, "The Boy Who Ran Away", is also very special, a great sing-a-long song, full of excitement.
Closing track "Making Dens" is a fitting end to a fine album. Full of power and distortion, choppy cellos sound as the song sways between its ups and downs. It is very special indeed, an excellent piece of music that showcases their talents.
In a way, this albums acts as a good companion to Canadian band Broken Social Scene’s last release. Both bands seem to have the same mentality of "try anything", where ideas are all thrown together and their huge talent allows it to form. If you are looking for something that manages to be both fresh and timeless, then look no further - this is one of the essential purchases of this year.