Review Summary: An album encompassing punk, post-hardcore, pop and metal sounds which mixes them all into one powerful whole.
In some ways it's kind of a shame that Northern Ireland's Jetplane Landing are so dedicated to their punk/DIY ethic because their second album Once Like A Spark is just the kind of album that could have been massively popular and get a lot of people introduced to the kind of punk/post-hardcore music they do so well . Released by Jetplane Landing's own label Smalltown American and taking inspiration from At The Drive-In, Jimmy Eat World and Rage Against The Machine, this album combines punk, metal, pop and even funk influences into an intriguing mix.
The mainstays of the album are songs with crunching riffs, quiet/loud switches and a good dose of catchy chorus. Single ‘I Opt Out’ and final track ‘There Is No Real Courage Unless There Is Real Danger’ are the best examples of this. ‘I Opt Out’ has a punk sentiment (I’m tired of this vanity, importance/I opt out/They dare to call to this progress) but is still very hooky while ‘There Is No Real...’ switches between aggressive yells and clean singing perfectly and is a good finishing impression for an album that mixes melody and aggression constantly. There are several other songs similar to these on the album and while none of them are quite as striking as they all feature thought provoking lyrics and impressive musicianship.
However if this was all the album offered it would become a little boring so it’s a good thing Jetplane Landing take tilts at both uncompromisingly heavy tracks and some more relaxed sounds. As can be deducted from their titles ‘Effect a Change’ and ‘The Strength Of Our Conviction’ both have punk airs about them, mixed with old fashioned metal aggressiveness. Perhaps a little too much aggressiveness in fact on ‘Effect a Change’ as Andrew Ferris’s otherwise powerful voice struggles to keep up with the unrelenting guitar and leaves a bit of a mess. There are no such missteps on ‘Strength Of Our Conviction’ though as Ferris belts out lyrics in both French and English over and as he screams ‘Where once there was happiness/Now there’s some self centred *** about private opportunity’ you can tell he really means it. ‘Brave Gravity’ sounds like Jimmy Eat World, ejecting the quiet/loud for a fast paced pop-rock sound which showcases their versatility. 'Calculate the Risk' meanwhile mixes funk and punk sounds to make one of the most distinct and catchy songs on the album. Unfortunately the other foray into a softer sound 'Do It...Now!' loses its way as the crooning vocals and sugar coated sounds are just a little too jarring.
This album covers quite a broad spectrum of rock and I imagine everyone will find at least one track they can get into (though I'd try 'I Opt Out' if you were thinking of downloading a test). The musicianship and vocals are both powerful if not exactly inspired and Jetplane Landing have a real message that they put through all their songs, from their softest to their heaviest and it's one worth hearing.