We Were Promised Jetpacks
Unravelling


3.5
great

Review

by WePartWays USER (11 Reviews)
October 14th, 2014 | 25 replies


Release Date: 10/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Jetpacks have discovered that there is a space between ballads and full throttle.

Scotland has come to be known for a variety of bands exploring the darker, moodier sides of music. Groups like Mogwai, Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad introduced the world to a craft of piling layers of noise one upon the other, and, probably even more noteworthy, made it fashionable again to sing in a Scottish accent. We Were Promised Jetpacks have built on that heritage, combining the rawness coming from their origins with a sensibility for traditional indie rock. It is a simple, yet effective formula that worked fine for the four Glaswegians: Take two guitars, bass, drum set and an irate Scottish vocalist and rock the house making as much noise as possible. Their new release, though, sees them grow past that template. Despite always having had an anthemic quality in their songs, Unravelling marks the spot in their career where they fully embrace that idea.

The inclusion of multi-instrumentalist Stuart McGachan seems to have opened up a whole new world of musical colors to the band. Although they have experimented with keyboards in the past, those elements stuck out as artifacts, out of touch with the rest of the band. McGachan, however, succeeds to coax some new sounds from the band. Not only have they shifted down some gears on their more energetic songs, but they have discovered that there is a space between ballads and full throttle. Songs like “Night Terror“ and “Bright Minds” have interesting grooves that are primarily allowed to exist because drummer Darren Lackie refrains from beating the hell out of his drum set all the time. Frontman Adam Thompson as well shows a new level of self-assurance, singing relaxedly even over the more propulsive rhythms. The changed focus in the mix gives him the needed space to explore the fragile facets of his voice, and he takes advantage of that quite often. Especially in the latter half of the album, he is supported by a backdrop that remarkably relies on keyboards and atmospheric sounds and introduces a much-welcomed sonic shift for the band.

As becomes apparent over the course of the album, Unravelling is much more about the fine nuances than previous albums have been. Where songs like “Quiet Little Voices” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves” covered up the lack of instrumental hooks with layered chants and noisy eruptions, the band are now much more confident to leave out, to omit, to show bare skin. On Unravelling, it becomes clear that riffs never were the focus of their music. What made the Jetpacks so special was their ability to create tension over the course of a song and to release it with devastating effect. Nothing has changed about that on this album; it is only executed more subtly than before. When the moment of catharsis kicks in on opener “Safety In Numbers”, more than two and a half minutes have already passed. On their first album, a song like “Short Bursts” would have taken a mere 65 seconds of time for that.

Certainly, We Were Promised Jetpacks were not going to remain forever those slightly hyperactive rock musicians they were on their first two albums. But it is still interesting to follow them on their growth towards adulthood, with all of its implications: losing your juvenile temper, having to take over responsibility for your own actions and the lives of others, seeing your childhood dreams fade in the light of life’s constraints. Unravelling is very indicative of that process. At the same time though, it reminds us that growing up doesn’t mean you won’t feel strongly about anything; rather, the things you react to will be different.



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user ratings (51)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Alkemest
October 14th 2014


316 Comments


I was promised a jetpack.

NorwichScene
October 14th 2014


2363 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I've given this a couple of listens, probably their best album so far. Four walls had some awesome songs, but didn't like their last album In the Pit much.



So many great albums out at the minute, will have to come back to this

WePartWays
October 14th 2014


42 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's been out in Europe for a week now, though it's out today in the US/Canada. Stereogum is still streaming the record:

http://www.stereogum.com/1709414/stream-we-were-promised-jetpacks-unravelling-stereogum-premiere/tour-dates/



I'm not sure if i prefer this over the first two records. There is no Quiet Little Voices on here, but it's more consistent than their past work. It's actually been the first time I listened to an album five times in a row.



Btw, it's Unravelling with two Ls. Someone might fix that up.

Jade
Emeritus
October 14th 2014


10698 Comments


This is so good

Pajolero
October 14th 2014


912 Comments


"We Were Promised Ballsacks"

Digging: Grave Pleasures - Motherblood

Jade
Emeritus
October 14th 2014


10698 Comments


are you proud of that joke

this album shouldve ended with Peace of Mind

AliW1993
October 14th 2014


7511 Comments


Good review.

I agree this is probably their strongest record to date, it's a real step forward from their first two.

Hooray for Scotland.

JoylessBastard
October 14th 2014


250 Comments


Ooh didn't even know this was coming out! Will check out soon

UnnamedOcean
October 14th 2014


3989 Comments


This band always comes up on last.fm for me. Maybe it's time for a listen.

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
October 14th 2014


1368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Really expected an Ali review for this. Good job though man.

AliW1993
October 14th 2014


7511 Comments


I'm saving my beans for The Twilight Sad's new one.

bloc
October 14th 2014


44263 Comments


First time listening to this band and I dig it

Digging: Beastmilk - Climax

omnipanzer
October 14th 2014


21816 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hey... this is pretty good.

Bokonon
October 15th 2014


19 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

With Owl John, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Aidan Moffat (kind of), and Mogwai releasing albums this year, it's been a good time for fans of Scottish indie rock.

WePartWays
October 15th 2014


42 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And let's not forget the dozens of other albums coming out this autumn. Ben Howard, Husky, Caribou, Alt-J, etc...

AliW1993
October 15th 2014


7511 Comments


"With Owl John, The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, Aidan Moffat (kind of), and Mogwai releasing albums this year, it's been a good time for fans of Scottish indie rock."

King Creosote, James Yorkston, Withered Hand, Randolph's Leap... the list is basically endless.


Jade
Emeritus
October 15th 2014


10698 Comments


The last sentence of this review is wonderful

Friday13th
October 15th 2014


6095 Comments


ya but that screen-screwing album art

Digging: Duke Ellington - The Far East Suite

dbizzles
October 17th 2014


10384 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I've only heard the first 4-5 songs and nothing struck me.

I'll give it more attention tomorrow.

Digging: Summoning - Oath Bound

Ignimbrite
October 24th 2014


6220 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The back half of this album is fantastic.

Digging: Converge - The Dusk in Us



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