Mystery Jets: Radlands

It’s fun to play cowboy. That’s why the Mystery Jets holed up in Austin, Texas for months in a wooden house on the banks of the Colorado River to write and record their fourth album, Radlands

After recording three records on Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, London, the English five-piece decided they needed to cross the pond and experience the West for themselves. The result: a hybrid of Brit-pop and western Americana, which, remarkably, isn’t as disjointed and terrible as it sounds.

“Greatest Hits” starts the album with lead man Blaine Harrison mumbling about ‘idiots on the BBC’ before diving straight into a simple, breezy guitar line reminiscent of the Eagles and a poppy melody with a bit of attitude (think early Beatles meets Arctic Monkeys).

“Lonestar” is most heavily influenced by the band’s bucolic surroundings, with some light honky tonk picking paired with a soft chorus and homely triangle chimes. “Sister Everett,” inspired by the band’s meeting with a Mormon missionary on an airplane, begins with glistening church organ, and then rolls, full-force, into classic Brit rock territory — a new rugged sound that the band rocks with startling confidence.

Although bassist Kai Fish jumped ship just before the release of Radlands, the album sounds amazingly carefree and poppy for a band on the brink of a breakup. Leave it to a stint in the Wild West to soothe the restless soul. (7/10)