Tuesday, November 29th, 2011
Through The Dirt And The Gravel
Review of We Were Promised Jetpacks’ In The Pit Of The Stomach
Nic ShonfeldAlongside labelmates and countrymen The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, Glasgow-via-Edinburgh’s We Were Promised Jetpacks should have formed a 21st century dream team of new Scottish acts, dispensing their peoples’ distinctive brand of angst through their respective brands of rock. And yet while those other two won and maintain places in my heart, Jetpacks’ 2009 debut These Four Walls did’t quite win me over.
The specifics of why aren’t entirely clear, but I suspect that it was just a little too shouty, too unrelenting. Granted, those are the band’s key strengths – guitarist/vocalist Adam Thompson’s bellows overtop the breakneck musical churn – but I found Walls a bit exhausting to get through. That hardly warranted writing the band off, however, so I was more than happy to give their sophomore effort In The Pit Of The Stomach, released last month, a few spins and it’s almost as though the band heard about my complaints and decided to meet me partway. Which is awful gracious of them.
To either casual followers or die-hard fans of the band, Stomach probably sounds perfectly familiar and satisfying. It’s still loud and punishing – album closer “Pear Tree” is a six-and-a-half minute flurry of face punches – but those crescendos are now better tempered with quieter passages and a greater emphasis on melody, both vocally and instrumentally. By reining things in a bit and singing rather than shouting while the drums and guitars steadily build, “Act On Impulse” comes across far more dynamically and interesting than anything I can recall on Walls. Similarly, the instrumental front half of “Sore Thumb” is evocative of Mogwai in their gentler moods before bringing the hammer down like Mogwai in their angrier moods; which is to say it’s kind of Mogwai-ish, in a good way.
In The Pit Of The Stomach evidences the sort of artistic growth and sophistication you’d hope a young band who’re probably not given to turning their sound upside down would develop. It certainly won’t lose them any fans but it may well sway some who had been on the fence onto their side. Trust me on this.
The Dallas Observer talks to the band about guitarist Michael Palmer’s cancer scare between albums one and two.
I now have a Valentine and her/their name is Veronica Falls. The London quartet will be back in town for a show at The Garrison on February 14, tickets $10.50 in advance. DIY has an A-to-Z with/of the band.
Arena-sized in the UK, club-sized in North America, Kasabian will bring their latest album Velociraptor to The Phoenix on March 29, tickets $24.50 in advance. Perhaps they’ll be able to commiserate with Toronto about the (lack of) wisdom in naming things after dinosaurs that were briefly in fashion 20 years ago.
The Alternate Side has posted an Elbow studio session to watch and interview to read while Under The Radar reports that the band has been tapped to record the soundtrack to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London.
Adele is capping off what’s been a pretty good year for her (except for all those canceled shows and throat surgery) with the release of the Live At The Royal Albert Hall DVD/BR today – Spin is streaming the audio from the document while you can watch 25 minutes of the thing at Vevo.