“Diamonds in the Dark”, the lead track off Mystery Jets’ new EP, feels like a grab at more mainstream radio by a band that doesn’t necessarily need it. The pop-punk backbone of the track is nowhere near as interesting as the too-short guitar rattle that punctuates the verses, though it still has something of Maximo Park’s angular rhythms. The song’s a dream of hipster heaven—mom and dad in long-haired LES splendour, with the kids listening to the Futureheads and Field Music and Art Brut. “We would live on Delancey Street / But then you cut your hair and it ended there.” In an oddly similar way, Mystery Jets let us down on a promise. While we originally admired their thrilling rock, they’re telling us they have more mainstream ambitions. The EP’s other tracks restore some hope, at least. “Crosswords” is jittery and fun, a kind of cocaine-fueled take on the New Wave Brit sound, and a secret track at the disc’s end switches between genuine sweetness and a swirling, rhythmic restlessness. It’s a good song, unpretentious and appealing, and shows us the best of this band that is still struggling (in no small part due to Visa issues) to break into the American market. It may take a bit of tweaking, but they’ll get there eventually.
// Notes from the Road
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