Album: We Were Promised Jetpacks – Enjoy The View review

by Craig Howieson

Melding the molten components of all their work to date, We Were Promised Jetpacks have created a record full to the brim with the hope that tomorrow can bring

We Were Promised Jetpacks have long encapsulated the sound of soaring buzzards in flight. As guitars pour from lofty vantage points, and Andy Thompson’s wrought and impassioned voice communicates messages of turmoil and heart shakes, the group’s post-rock instrumental interludes and direct sing-along choruses provided a steady hand to hold.

On top of this, somewhere along the road of their now fifteen year career, the band embraced their funkier side. It started creeping in around the time of 2014’s Unravelling, and became a noticeable part of their live show when road testing material for it’s follow up – 2018’s The More I Sleep The Less I Dream. The thrashing onslaught of their live show gave way to looseness and experimentation, and, with it, an embrace of classic pop sensibilities. This new direction was explored on TMISTLID, but it is now, on their latest record, Enjoy The View, where the band have managed to meld the molten components of their influences into something solid.

Opener, Not Me Anymore, might be the poppiest thing the group have ever done. A smooth, soulful groove of synths and processed drums cuddle up under Thompson’s voice, as he is backed by a heavenly choir of heavily effected backing vocals. The opening chimes of synth on Fat Chance hint at a continuation of this theme, but the illusion is soon shattered as Darren Lackie’s drums roll in and and the group rollick through a number where Thompson looks at a brighter day to come – ‘I thought I had a fat chance / Maybe one in millions / Did a complete 180 / Now I’m going the right way.’ 

As if to prove his lyric of doing a ‘complete 180’, the album is full of about turns. There is an inescapable sway and swoop to Blood, Sweat, Tears as uncharacteristically clean guitar lines snap on the off beats and Thompson’s syllable stuffed melodies never pause for breath. The atmospheric soundscapes that shaped their debut and second record, In The Pit Of The Stomach, are also not thrown away. What I Know Now and closer, Just Don’t Think About It, pirouette in the same blissful afterglow of These Four Walls Keeping Warm.

Thompson’s lyrics have long advocated aspiration in the face of adversity. On Enjoy The View, there are indicators that self-reflection (‘If all that I’ve said and done / Is somehow connected / I should join the dots’), and taking chances (‘If nothing’s ventured / Nothing’s gained’) make for a safe passage through troubled waters. 

In fact, on what is one of their most well rounded records to date, We Were Promised Jetpacks look beyond the all encompassing cloud of the present to show that in time hindsight will prove it was worth being here for (‘For the record I had given up / Decided I’m not good enough / I wish that I knew better / I wish I knew what I know now – What I know Now’).

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