These Four Walls

I’ve been meaning to do a write-up on this album for a week or two now, and the draft has been sitting in limbo for even longer after that. At the onset of listening to this record, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot. For some reason I was kinda thinking that perhaps Glasgow’s We Were Promised Jetpacks had exhausted their creative effort coming up with such a cool name. In spite of that, I sat down and gave it a shot. Right from the start, the band’s stripped down no-nonsense style was a welcome breath of fresh air from the synth-laden affairs that I so regularly frequent. Then there’s Adam Thompson’s unabashedly Scottish vocals; at first, I mistook it for a gimmick. How wrong was I! He commits to the accent, and embraces it, like any singer would otherwise do with their voice, and it works wonders.

The opening track, ‘It’s Thunder and Lightning’, sets the tone for the record and is fairly representative of the material that follows it. Where Jetpacks really shines is how they play with pace. Like I said earlier, the texture of each song is more or less uniform: the instruments have little to no effects, and Thompson alternates between whispering/mumbling to screaming until his throat must be raw. I guess that sounds pretty unappealing, when read, but please believe me when I say ‘it works’. The quiet/loud changeup typically is hitched to the fast/slow transition, and the two shifts at once really work wonders as far as giving slow songs some punch, or making the more frantic tracks seem to have a bit more heart.

Enough talking though, sample the goods:

      Quiet Little Voices - We Were Promised Jetpacks

One of my favorite parts of this record is the small little things that are done to unify the work as an album. Right at the tail end of ‘Roll up your Sleeves’ the lyrics encourage the object of the song to “keep warm, keep warm.” This is perfectly dovetailed by the penultimate track, ‘Keeping Warm‘, which not only elaborates on the lyrical idea of warmth, but also contains the title of the record. It’s maybe my favorite song on the album, with its slow build and somewhat less strained vocals… and so I guess I really like it in spite of it not sounding like the rest of the songs (which are also good!):

“There’s nothing to eat and / there’s nowhere to sleep / in these four walls.”

      Keeping Warm - We Were Promised Jetpacks

So that’s that. I feel silly that I took so long to get this short little blip about We Were Promised Jetpacks together, but I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. This band is certainly worth a listen!

We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls