Just Handshakes / Mystery Jets @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 28.03.12

After a hiatus of eighteen months since their last live performance, the Brudenell Social Club warmly welcomed back a rejuvenated Mystery Jets to the stage. The recording of their new album Radlands in Texas has injected the band with a distinct streak of Americana to their much loved Anglo-pop sound, and the result is a fuller, more composed affair. As that great icon of Americana Apollo Creed one said “be a thinker, not a stinker”; it’s clear the Mystery Jets have emphatically heeded his advice.

Apr 9th, 2012 at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds / By James Pullin
Just Handshakes / Mystery Jets @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 28.03.12 The crowd hardly needed warming up considering the sweltering temperatures outside the Brudenell, yet Just Handshakes did an admirable job of mirroring that balmy summer feeling. The easy breeze of “Falling Over Our Fear” instantly struck a chord with the crowd, with lead singer Clara evoking the spirit of Stereolab with her honey sweet vocals, while the rest of the band pursued the kinds of jangly back and forth interplay that made Beat Happening such cult favourites. At times Just Handshakes lacked a decisive tinge of individuality that could elevate them above ranks of their similarly minded peers, but few could claim that one of New Yorkshire’s finest bands were anything less than charming.

The Mystery Jets bounded on stage backed by an upturned American flag with 'Radlands' scrawled across it, with text in the style of Terence Malik’s sociopathic- escape-murder film Badlands. A much less twee reference point than many would expect from the Eel Pie Island band, and perhaps a symbol of their growing maturity. Or at least it’s a cool flag.
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The Jets immediately launched into new single ‘Someone Purer’ and a fresh approach to the familiar territory of previous Jets songs quickly presented itself, with a driving verse leading into a huge whooping chorus. The addition of a lap steel guitar has added a welcome fullness to their sound, and it’s clear that the Mystery Jets soaked up far more than burger grease and watery beer during their stay in Austin. However, after such a long pause, and with a bassist absent, the Jets looked slightly unsure in their performance. Old favourites ‘Two Doors Down’, ‘Flakes’ and ‘Serotonin’ all ignited rapturous responses, but also overshadowed the first showings of the Jets’ newer output, which speaks more to the quality of some of their older repertoire than anything particularly awry with the newer material.

Any complaint that could be found doesn’t change the fact that the Mystery Jets have written some of the best pop songs of recent years, and they rightly hold a special place in the hearts of many. When they finally rip through crowd favourite ‘Behind the Bunhouse’, which was so good one crutch bound audience member began to surf around on the wave of appreciation, it’s a pleasure to welcome The Mystery Jets back.