Mystery Jets make a powerful return with new album, A Billion Heartbeats. With most of the writing having taken place in 2017, it comes as a reflection of recent political events. All ten tracks on this record come neatly tied together as an artistic expression of beauty born out of chaos. There is some sense of despair, as a heavier tone drives the anger and frustration, but also a sense of hope through rally calls of empowering lyrics.
Single ‘Screwdriver’ is an intense surge into the album. A bass-driven energy builds up to some clarity for vocal points, as if these voices need to be heard. This protest against dismal society is an instant showcase of power. The outro comes with “fight them with love” on repeat as a bass line shreds through to the end, closing on the note of, “when the power of love overcomes the love of power, then the world will be ours.” From the get-go, we know this album has something to say. The real beauty of it, however, lies within the various influences that made it.
Personal notes add depth to the distressing portrayal of society. This is particularly poignant in namesake track ‘A Billion Heartbeats’. It is a highly emotive point in the album, posing the question of why it takes a tragedy for people to come together. An ultrasound heartbeat – belonging to the son of co-producer Matthew Twaites and nephew of lead vocalist Blaine Harrison – makes for a small yet powerful feature. A true family affair, as always, for Mystery Jets. It stands alone for a moment with a drumbeat in the back, before chants and proclamations are layered on top. In a way, this reflects the number of protests that inspired the album. Not only is this feature a sweet little fact, but it also stands as a reminder of others in the world affected by the role we play in society.
‘Hospital Radio’ is another personal track born from Harrison’s diary entries during a period of illness. Vocals come through a little more hazy, coursing through feelings of not understanding something. As the track goes on, these feelings turn into anger. The rhythm speeds up, the instruments intensify, and the vocals rise along with it, exclaiming more than before. Despite the frustration, the track seems to close with a sense of peace and strength.
This band are forever on a journey, but that gentle Jets charm remains through it all. ‘History Has Its Eyes on You’ is a good example of this delicacy, albeit a fresh take on what we know of the band. Coming in as a breather after the intensity of previous tracks, this one takes a slower pace. It is lighter on the ears but still delivers a strong message, pulled directly from placards at a women’s march in 2017 – “Be who you needed when you were younger.” “Girl,” “sister,” and “mother” are addressed verse by verse, a recognition of women and hope for their future.
Though occasionally somber in its themes, there is passion and reassurance in this album. ‘Campfire Song’ urges us to keep going, sticking true to its name with an upbeat sing-along energy. From this point, the album curves into a soothing tone with affirmation and content, cooling off from the emotional charge that came before.
At face value, A Billion Heartbeats is a new chapter in which Mystery Jets blow us away. All the while reminding us that it’s easier than we might think to rally together and bring some good to the world – be that physically or in spirit. It’s a message more important than ever right now.
A Billion Heartbeats is available to download and stream now, and a physical release is coming in June. You can buy, stream, and pre-order the physical here. The band have planned some special shows with independent record stores around this time which are TBC. The full album tour – originally planned for this month – has been rescheduled for November/December.