Review : We Were Promised Jetpacks - In the Pit of the Stomach
SpinScotland's current gang of catharsis-seeking sad bastards -- Frightened Rabbit, the Twilight Sad, and these lads -- score another win here. We Were Promised Jetpacks' second album tightens the craggy fuzz of their first, revealing twisty post-punk songs with chewy pop centers. Only a couple of songs on 2009's These Four Walls invited shout-alongs; this time they're everywhere, from crashing opener "Circles and Squares" ("Life in a coma could be quite fun!") to the bouncy "Medicine" ("Is this about me now?") to dirge-y death ballad "Act on Impulse." It's lyrically somber, no doubt, but ultimately redemptive -- like a healing calm after the storm....full text
MusicomhThere is a fire in the belly of We Were Promised Jet Packs (WWPJP). Fuelled by youth, ambition and surges of Celtic aggression, In The Pit Of The Stomach manages to combine expansive and clever rock with a large dose of rawness and urgency on the side.
Those who remember Idlewild or Biffy Clyro before they homogenised their sound and moved from the likes of Nice N Sleazy to sell out stadiums, will inevitably draw comparisons. Not only fellow countrymen, WWPJP also owe some of their sound to bands like Fugazi or The Wedding Present when they show their more urgent side. What expands their sound is another tendency, one which is sprawling, broody and much more visceral. It’s these two competing slants that form In The Pit Of The Stomach.
Opener Circles and Squares clatters into life with scatter brain crash bang drums before startling into a military beat and urgent guitar before an indie chant a long ending. It's the sound of a band that want to tick several rock boxes at once and a good overview of In The Pit Of The Stomach; WWPJP have a youthful urgency throughout, but they keep on pushing it to sound, well, bigger.
That ambition is something WWPJP seem to pick up and toss down at will and is ultimately what prevents this from being a much better album. In music, as in life, being able to something well is often better than being average at everything. WWPJP don’t nail either style, or coherently mix the two, preferring instead to chop and change at will.
They flit between straight up big chorus indie (Medicine), lead singer Adam Thompson evoking a young Roddy Woomble to something far smarter. Act On Impulse, the first single from In the Pit, builds duelling, swirling guitar riffs into an echoed introspective vocals “you were dead when we arrived/you died on impact”. It feels like elementary Mogwai or a more expansive track by label mates The Twilight Sad....full text
PitchforkPreconceptions are usually kind of a bitch, but they've mostly worked in this Scottish band's favor. Knowing that they were championed by Frightened Rabbit on MySpace and then signed to FatCat would have you believe that they're similarly aligned as scrappy, heart-on-sleeve romantics. And yes, their 2009 debut, These Four Walls, delivered on that notion, however intermittently. But based on the name We Were Promised Jetpacks, you might think they're a hyper-stimulated and wordy post-hardcore/emo act too. That's also kinda true. Shuttling between the sound of weathered, masculine brooding and the lyrical sentiment of immobilized, teenage pining, they're something of a genre of one that's managed to sound perfectly compatible as an opener for both Twilight Sad and Jimmy Eat World.
There was hope that These Four Walls, like most overeager and uneven debuts from killer live acts, was a dry run for inevitable greatness once their execution caught up with their energy. And yet, while more focused in just about every way conceivable (no more eight-minute songs with glockenspiels), In the Pit of the Stomach can't seem to move things forward, weirdly sitting in a purgatory of sounding like an anthemic rock record without the actual anthems.
Feeling stuck is certainly something WWPJ identify with. As with These Four Walls, the pervading feeling expressed on In the Pit of the Stomach is foretold by its title: a sense of jittery readiness as reaction to the unease of being trapped inside yourself. Fittingly, WWPJ's musicianship sports the tightly-coiled motions of someone trying to bust out of restraints-- drill-like riffs and insistent hi-hats are punctuated by short, almost epileptic bursts of distortion and drum rattle. Despite the roomy lengths and arena aspirations of these songs, Peter Katis' strapping production casts WWPJ as meticulous and muscular post-punk militants at their core. Though they don't aspire to the jackbooted combativeness of WU LYF or Iceage, Thompson's melodies do have an orderly, call-and response aspect to them.
And yet this newly disciplined sound mostly reveals a band that has the earnest diligence of foot soldiers but not the spark of leadership. Catharsis is something they just don't have the patience for, and In the Pit of the Stomach blasts out of your speakers from "Circles and Squares" and never yields, buzzing constantly rather than building toward moments of rabble-rousing revelation....full text
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