Monday, 3 November 2014

Album Review - We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling

Whereas We Were Promised Jetpacks’ previous album In The Pit Of The Stomach,  released in 2011, was good, albeit at times a little unfocused, their new album Unravelling  shows a band fully reaching their potential and producing something very special indeed.

The whole album displays a confidence that was previously unseen and that, coupled with the addition of new member Stuart McGachan on guitar and keyboards, gives us a body of work that may just be destined to propel the band to the next level.

It’s perhaps an obvious comparison but We Were Promised Jetpacks' career does somewhat mirror that of Frightened Rabbit's.  Like them, WWPJ are making headway in America, albeit under the radar somewhat, and like Frightened Rabbit's 2013 album Pedestrian VerseUnravelling will ensure that progress continues.  Where WWPJ differ from Frightened Rabbit however is sonically in that they offer a more polished sound and one that at times genuinely thrills which in places redolent of REM, Radiohead circa The Bends,  and Nick Cave.

The band’s post-rock and punk influences have been given a fine tuning but haven’t been diminished; if anything the band are sounding better than they ever have done to the extent that they experiment with different styles and do so successfully. 

Opener Safety In Numbers  mixes precise math-rock with soundscaped post-rock whilst lead singer Adam Thompson drapes his distinctive vocals over the top, lamenting "There was a time I didn't feel right".  Recent single I Keep It Composed  a slower tempo number, controlled and focused the rhythm section doing exactly what the title suggested, whilst Thompson strains about keeping poised, staying together and keeping controlled.  What keeps this track so exciting is the feeling that the band are aching with every sinew to let loose but just, just manage to keep it composed.

From the rest of the album Night Terrors  and Disconnecting  are the other standout tracks, the latter’s foreboding lead piano line and echo laden vocals bringing to mind Radiohead before Thom Yorke started mumbling and covering everything in bleeps.

The album’s penultimate track Peace Of Mind is an interesting and sonically experimental track with an extensive instrumental breakdown that at times brings to mind Mogwai, and harks back to the long building intro demonstrated on Keeping Warm  from the band's first album.  Showing the band are still keen to push the boundaries of their own music, it's a great finish to the album.  

Unravelling  is We Were Promised Jetpacks' strongest album to date and one with which they take a huge leap forward.  Their ambition deserves reward.

- David McElroy

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Unravelling  is out now via Fat Cat Records and is available from all good record shops and online music retailers as well as directly from the label here.

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