Album Review We Were Promised Jetpacks - In The Pit Of The Stomach

Sometimes it pays to have high expectations.

Sometimes it pays to have high expectations. Sometimes, in fact, it simply cannot be helped, and this is especially so in the case of We Were Promised Jetpacks. The band’s debut album, ‘These Four Walls’, despite being full of immediate songs, took its time in making a full impact. It was not the kind of album that grabbed you by the throat and left you stunned right from the off. In a similar fashion, last year’s EP, ‘The Last Place You’ll Look’, was a slow-burner.

Neither of their previous releases serve as proper preparation for ‘In The Pit Of The Stomach’, an album that isn’t so much a reinvention of the band’s sound, as something on which they realise their full potential. For us, ‘These Four Walls’ was an impressive opening salvo, but still not the full package. Second time around (and this is a statement not to be taken lightly), damn near everything has fallen into place.

It is rather appropriate, therefore, that the new record should begin with a spine-tingling wall of sound. The first minute or so of ‘Circles & Squares’ is made up of guitar blasts and crashing drums, before the song settles into the same territory occupied by songs like ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’. There are moments on the album that, while being far from derivative of earlier material, recall the sound of the debut, only more filled-out and refined. Lead single ‘Medicine’, which sees the band moving into darker musical as well as lyrical content, is another prime example of this.

‘In The Pit Of The Stomach’ can be a tad overwhelming at times, especially on first listen. It’s the kind of record the listener has to actively try and take in after ‘Pear Tree’ finishes - we certainly had to after the record’s first play, having had our collective breath stolen from us several times - and twice in one song, in fact. The true highlight on an album full of cinematic, epic songs is ‘Sore Thumb’: five minutes of WWPJ taking their sound to places it had never previously been. It’s fitting that there should be 40 seconds or so of downtime before ‘Boy in the Backseat’ bulldozes through the quiet soundscapes and kickstarts the most energetic song on the album.

It’s impossible to convey with mere words how much of a step up the band have taken. Listening to the album is an intense and draining experience, but it is the sound of a band who have finally learned to let go. While the debut sounded ominous and brooding at times, its follow-up is the complete opposite: the sound of a band who are completely confident and no longer afraid to take risks. Sometimes it pays to have high expectations - because it makes it all the sweeter when they are completely shattered.

 

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