The upbeat, adolescent origins of the Mystery Jets seem cold and distant in their fifth studio album. Despite their grounding in the commercial success of boy-meets-girl, happy-go-lucky indie pop, Curve of the Earth sees the 4-man outfit drifting in more introspective space.
‘Telomere’ arrives ghostly and very serious. It’s naming for the DNA strands that determine the rate of aging in human cells neatly describes the song’s grappling with mortality. For fans who turned onto the band for their simplistic odes to drunken one-night stands and public transport infatuation, ‘Telomere’ is a rude awakening. It is minimalism, expressing more with less. ‘The End Up’ dissolves into a warm and melancholic lamentation. They’re at their best in this regard on ‘Saturnine’, where we sail with them through updrafts of newfound romance and tenderness.
The most memorable aspect of Curve of the Earth is its capacity to plumb the depth of post-adolescent anxiety. On ‘1985’, a decidedly darker and stripped-back offering, piano and strings are used lightly while forlorn vocals implore the cosmos to turn two starcrossed lovers back to their year of genesis. This is nostalgia at its most destructive, and it inspires the unexpected turns into rocky refrains in ‘Taken By The Tide’ and ‘Bubblegum’, shattering the illusion that this is mere self-indulgent moping. It helps earmark Mystery Jets as curious tinkerers, channelling angst that is intriguing, if not always revelatory.
Curve of the Earth captures the bend in the arc of growing up. While they struggle through growing pains that often leave them falling flat, with songs that reap a dullness that was never a criticism of their earlier hits, the ultimate product is something grasping at the profound.