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It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Mystery Jets broke surface with their debut album, Making Dens. Of all the acts that sprang into life in The Libertines’ Fagin-like wake, Mystery Jets were always the hardest to pin down. A Syd Barrett-enthralled troupe fashioning delightfully skewed, potting shed psychedelia out of playful wonky pop and unashamedly proggy flourishes from their Thameside hideout of Eel Pie, the South London island that played midwife to the British R&B boom in the early ’60s.

While so many of their more two dimensional peers have long since faded away, what’s kept Mystery Jets consistently fascinating over the last decade has been an itchy footed desire to keep trying new things. From follow up Twenty One’s dazzling jumble of electro, off kilter indie and suit- jacket-sleeves-rolled-up yacht rock, Serotonin’s well-buffed melodies and the dust-stained Americana of 2012’s Radlands, to be a follower of Mystery Jets’ music has been to eagerly await the next move of their restlessly curious muse.

On Curve Of The Earth, Mystery Jets have changed tack again, only this time it’s been to strip back some of their more shapeshifting tendencies and distil the essence of what makes them such a great band. Arguably their strongest, most personal and most coherent set of tracks to date, it highlights what the kids down the front of their shows shouting “Zoo Time!” have known all along, that at their centre Mystery Jets simply write amazing songs.

“As well as us wanting to do something different, it is also a slight return to what we were as a band ten years ago,” notes guitarist Will Rees, sat sharing a round of tea and roll ups with his bandmates across the street from their current East London HQ. “I think it’s quite a revealing album also. We’re not sort of being Americana or not being this polished pop thing like Serotonin was, and we’re not being this yacht rock electro amalgamation of Twenty One: we’re just getting to the very core of what our songs are and presenting them in a fitting way and not trying to be something other than what we are.”

Three years in the making, Curve of the Earth’s gestation began once they’d put US-inspired album Radlands to bed. “On Radlands it was like, ‘Let’s go and rent a house in Texas and hope that a record comes out of it,’” recalls singer Blaine Harrison. “We spent most of it in town, eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas. It’s not like we would be out every night, but looking back I think it was a massively risky thing to do. So with this album, we thought, ‘Before we actually start recording, let’s have everything written,’ which I like to call ‘woodshedding’. Like in American movies when someone comes and finds Clint Eastwood and they say, ‘You need to come back and save the town,’ then he’s like, ‘But I’m old…’ then there’s a montage sequence of him trying to shoot cans and chopping up wood.”

Rather than dusting off their old badge and revolver, for Mystery Jets this meant relocating back to London and setting up their own recording space in a disused button factory in East London with Harrison embarking on isolated writing sessions in a cabin out in the Thames Estuary mudflats. Hunkered down writing and recording for months on end, isolated from external influences. Producing it themselves and unencumbered by any pressure other than to make the best record they could, Harrison, Rees, drummer Kapil Trivedi and latest recruit Jack Flanagan found themselves rediscovering the gang mentality that had bound the band together at the start.

 

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