We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls (Fatcat)
It’s obligatory now to comment on the refurbished and revitalised state of Scottish independent music (has it been unhealthy at any point over the last twenty or so years?), and it’s into these encouraging climes that bands like We Were Promised Jetpacks weather their inception. For many, the obvious reference point will be fellow Scots and excellent miserablists Frightened Rabbit, sharing both a musical aesthetic and much lyrical angst, presumably concerned with romance. These similarities aside (though they can’t be ignored, such is their magnitude), the charms of These Four Walls is massive.
Clanging in arrival, opener It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning is admirably taut and governed by one massive release of tension just after the mid-point. Repeated shouts of “your body was black and blue” and gentle patterings of snare rolls and hushed guitars are somewhat mismatched – one gets the impression that Adam Thompson’s vocals got a little more excited than they perhaps should have, and also that when the release finally arrives along with the smashing of the ensemble the song should wrap reasonably quickly after that. We’re shown a little too much of the ensuing bluster, reducing the contrast of its glorious first statement. Indeed, WWPJ clearly are possessive of the skills necessary to engender mass emotional response, but occasionally stumble over their readiness to use them.
Later, they manage to perfect the formula on the excellent Roll Up Your Sleeves. Tense guitars of narrow interval are spinily plucked while Thompson manages to reign himself in for the right moments. The peaks and troughs in intensity are quicker to come and go and, just when it seems that there might be nowhere else to go, the bass plops to the floor and high register guitars usher in a new statement without missing a beat. It’s beautifully constructed, alike enough to its previous sound not to sound like two ideas rammed together, and a blissful clatter is ended with dignity and poise. It’s not a single success, either, with the likes of single Quiet Little Voices is an effective retread and tempo-fuck of Interpol’s early material, while closer An Almighty Thud regains the intimacy, the closeness and the sensitivity missing from much of the record.
It would be wrong to say that WWPJ are bolstering the state of Scottish music, because it needs no bolstering, but it would be wronger to say that they’re just another face amongst it. With These Four Walls, they’ve managed to stumble through ragged terrain and, for the most part, hold onto their talents and use them well. Emotionally, it’s not as engaging, savage and forthright as Frightened Rabbit, but sonically they are gaining momentum and are clearly steeled for progression. Album number two should streamline their gestures and make them brilliant.
This is out TODAY! And there’s another single soon or something. More here.