If for no other reason than the piercing Scottish croon of lead singer Adam Thompson, We Were Promised Jetpacks will certainly receive their fair share of comparisons to tour mates Frightened Rabbit as well as The Twilight Sad. But the correlations are a bit overstated, as geographical proximity and vocal similarities don’t successfully convey all the musical differences amongst these European contemporaries.
Their sound, musically, is more akin to the English modern rock revival; it’s frantic and upbeat and quite exciting. Think Bloc Party minus the pomp and circumstance, or Arctic Monkeys with slightly rounder melodic edges, and even though the music is unquestionably young, it’s matured. The fresh faces of these four lads would fit in with any local pub’s open mic night; the cultivated tunes, however, would not.
And for an act who won their school’s “battle of the bands” competition, this shouldn’t be a surprise. They’ve been playing together since 2003, and since then have had many gigs to sharpen their skills, with perhaps the biggest one coming this past March at the South by Southwest Festival. They were highlighted on several of the festival’s music samplers as an act to watch out for and ended up drawing some respectable crowds.
Now all of this comes to fruition on the band’s debut album, These Four Walls, in the form of some adroit songwriting and spirited musicianship. The album’s first single, “Quiet Little Voices” is the band’s sing-along rocker, a chorus-less anthem, catchy enough to appear in mainstream commercials or the next episode of your favorite television show. “Ships With Holes Will Sink” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves” at the beginning of the album also carry on this brand of infectious, guitar-driven rock (almost channeling the ghost of Boy Kill Boy). The rest of the album slows down quite a bit, and it’s here where the Rabbit/Twilight comparisons prove to be a bit more apt.
“This Is My House, This Is My Home” highlights these songs, a sad but pretty little number that while sounding like a dark game of hide-and-seek, may actually be referring to the singer’s demons that he’s wrestling with: “Oh no you found me/Oh no you found me, here/Somethings happened in the attic/There’s no way I am going up there.” While the stronger, faster tracks ultimately end up making more of an impression upon first listen, these subtle songs are more than just filler, and juxtapose diverse emotions and ideas within the scope of the record very well.
In the end, there’s an overwhelming sense of familiarity with We Were Promised Jetpacks. They don’t feel new to this at all, every second boasts the polished production of a veteran band. In fact, it may seem too familiar to some who would discredit the band for the numerous similarities to other established groups. These naysayers who doubt the band’s potential need look no further than “Keeping Warm”, the second-to-last cut off the album. For eight-and-a-half fantastic minutes, …Jetpacks blend all of their strengths into an epic song that could be best described as post-punk prog rock. This could very well be a glimpse into the band’s musical future, and if so, consider them a force to be reckoned with.