Cheesy love pop: Mystery Jet's latest release, Serotonin, has more than enough to power a Grease soundtrack. Throughout the record you're given a healthy dose of that 80's power-pop, synth driven, "Never Gonna Give You Up," type of feel. With their extremely campy approach to this record, it becomes increasingly difficult to take them seriously with each plead for their forlorn love aspirations. And if upon first listen of Serotonin, you think it may grow, unfortunately it really loses any luster after the initial play through. After several listens, it seems to melt together into one overly-long mash up of over the top songwriting and forgettable rhythms. That is where the album stops being toe-tapping pop, and becomes the formulaic, monotonous mess that unfortunately plagues many pop records.
The group utilizes that spacey, distant singing effect that has been done several times, and to a better effect by several other groups in the genre (Arcade Fire for example). Among that there's the less than extraordinary rhythms that fill the atmosphere (Or lack thereof) on tracks like The Girl Is Gone and the title track which all follow the familiar pattern of catchy drum beat, synth pattern, guitar, repeat. There's obvious influences floating through each song, but they never pin one down and do something unique with it, they simply mash them all together for an incoherent, repetitive experience. And the repetition doesn't stop there. The choruses throughout the record rarely vary in their respective songs, and do little to make the track more interesting. The formula of verse-chorus-verse that is abused so often is apparent in several songs and only accentuates the many flaws of the record.
Though it may seem that there is nothing to redeem Serotonin, I'll admit that there are a few catchy rhythms sprinkled throughout. The feel of Flash a Hungry Smile, is a very nostalgic sort of Beatles number. However cliché it may be, some may enjoy this campy approach, though in most of other cases, it will just be put away as unoriginal and overdone, which is no doubt true as well.
The album bounces between sounds more than it should and simply can't decide what it's trying to be which leaves a giant void where substance should exist. It plays off of old formulas and tired rhythms as it stretches each song out as long as it can. Though it has its rare fun moments, for the most part it can't keep up with other power-pop groups who are simply doing it better. The Mystery Jets do, however, have quite a bit of talent as illustrated by their last record, but it simply doesn't work here. It seems that they've become too pop for their own good and wind up being the tired band trying to resurrect old formulas to manipulate the audience. Some will undoubtedly enjoy this for its little camp value, but it simply doesn't stand the test of several listens.