Mystery Jets–You Had Me At Hello

One of my not-so-secret obsessions is British bands writing about their experiences of America.  Mystery Jets have just released their latest album, Curve of the Earth, but in 2012 they decamped to Texas to record Radlands.  Naming it with a tip of the hat to one of the greatest American films ever made (as well as one of the greatest natural phenomenons), it was a bizarre record of cultural collisions.  That’s never more apparent than on You Had Me At Hello, itself a reference to cheesy Hollywood romance.  It’s not the best song on the album (that distinction goes to either the soaring Someone Purer or the criminally catchy Greatest Hits), but it is one of the weirdest and most wonderful depictions of genteel, southern America I’ve ever heard.  It is also hands down the most strangely heartwarming song you will ever hear about visiting a Bunny Ranch in Texas.  In anyone else’s hands, the track would have fallen somewhere on the spectrum between deeply awkward and downright creepy.  But by shifting the power dynamics of the characters, Blaine Harrison manages to create an almost touching, if not somewhat absurd, portrait of the companionship provided at a brothel (albeit with details about tigerskin rugs and Alexander McQueens that are delightfully off).  The sound marked a departure for the Jets as well, beginning with laid back country strumming before revving up into their usually rousing chorus.  You could almost see Harrison knocking it out on acoustic guitar on a dusty wooden porch.  Almost.

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