After pushing out three albums and a few tours in four years, Brit rockers Mystery Jets search for their voice and move to Austin, Texas to record their fourth studio album Radlands after two years of little activity. While Radlands is inspired by the land in which it was recorded, it fails to be deeply moving.
An album inspired by the band’s recent experiences living in Texas and frontman’s Blaine Harrison journey through southwest USA, Radlands sports the Lone Star State as the album cover and features a slight country twang, most noticeable in “The Ballad of Emmerson Lonestar.” There’s even a song appropriately and predictably titled “Lost In Austin.”
Things get pretty cynical right off the bat on the first track “Radlands” with the opening line, “I’ve heard there’s a place where we go to die / It’s a terribly overrated horseshit-shaped hole in the sky.” While the lyrics remain rather generic and mellow throughout, it’s hard to shake the burdening sadness the rest of the album seems to carry.
There are a few moments of relief on Radlands. “Greatest Hits” is a nice pop ballad about break-ups and old records, and “Saviour” is upbeat and sounds like it could have almost been a song on an album from gospel rockers Foxy Shazam.
It’s hard to trust a record’s backbone knowing one of the longtime band members quit just before the album was dropped (that being bassist Kai Fish), but Mystery Jets are unique and strong-willed: Harrison was born with spina bifida which has slowed the band down in the past, and his dad, Henry, used to be in the band but now only sort of is. The will to continue is what will make Mystery Jets fans enjoy this album and come back for more.