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Album Review // MYSTERY JETS ‘A Billion Heartbeats’

Passionate and full of hope, A Billion Heartbeats is a protest album that is sure to set hearts racing with its timeless quality.


Mystery Jets A Billion Heartbeats 2020

With five long plays already in their pocket and four years since their highly acclaimed album Curve Of The Earth was released, it would be easy to think that the London’s quartet had reached their peak. Previously postponed due to the ill health of lead singer, Blaine Harrison, A Billion Heartbeats serves a perfect balance of passion, fear and hope that is not just their “state of the nation” record but their “state of a generation” record too.

The teasers for the album already hinted towards a more calming heartfelt driven work, lyrically proving their aimed ethos of composing a collection of songs about “being a mirror for what’s going on, reflecting back the way people are feeling”, as the lead singer explained last year. And if you’re wondering where those ‘billion heartbeats’ come from, it was the album’s co-producer Matthew Twaites who smartly pointed that the average human has over a billion heartbeats in their lifetime, which led Blaine to name a song and also the album itself after it. A Billion Heartbeats, which is also the latest track release, is an absolute belter that blends rich harmonies, heavy guitars and rallying cries that perfectly follows the album’s riot-heavy path.

That path is initially introduced by the politically charged album intro Screwdriver that lyrically leaves nothing to the imagination and the massive aggressively passionate riffs are there to prove it. Suggesting that love is truly all we need to fight the power, Blaine explains “Screwdriver is about the mechanics of intolerance, but the message is not a pessimistic one – because perhaps faced with confrontation we can find understanding, and maybe even learn how to listen to, and love one another.” Have a look at the song’s lyrics and you will understand, ‘Hooligans in uniform / Demonstrating up the drag / Desecrating the national flag / Hate masquerading as pride / Say you got God on your side / But you ain’t why Jesus died.’

Following with Petty Drone the rally continues as the track is a stunning call to arms, heavenly influenced by 70s Queen sonics, that the band describes as a kind of “psychedelic anger”. Whereas tracks like Cenotaph and Campfire Song add a sweeter calm note to the album to bring it back to balance.

The 48 minute album couldn’t possibly be more current as songs like Hospital Radio gives an ode to the NHS following the lead singer’s own illness. Atmospherically charming History Has Its Eyes On You is a take on the women’s marches and gender inequality in music, whilst Wrong Side Of The Tracks marks as an inspiring farewell aimed at the youth climate strikers. ‘There’s a world outside your window and it needs you, son / Lunatics are reading Bibles and are buying guns / […] Never forget we’re not like the other kids / All we ever wanted was to make the needle skip.’

Let’s agree on one thing. Mystery Jets are more mature than ever. The album’s essential message about personal responsibility and the power in becoming engaged is one that simply shouldn’t pass your radar. Even if the London quartet might never be able to outdo Curve Of The Earth, A Billion Heartbeats is a high hoping, heart-racing protest album that is undoubtedly worth 48 minutes of your time.