The opening chords of ‘Keeping Warm’ start to strum just as the train I’m on reaches the Forth Bridge. As a soundtrack to crossing the river it’s well nigh perfect – the magnificent instrumental passage almost dwarfing the sight of the road bridge.
It seems entirely apposite as well to be listening to ‘These Four Walls’, the debut LP by We Were Promised Jetpacks, on the move because in the three years since I first saw them play each subsequent gig has been a further step forward on their journey.
But whilst it’s been easy to gauge the fact that they have been moving forward ever since that set for Baby Tiger in 2006 (the second time I saw them they didn’t play anything they’d played on the first occasion), the steady introduction of new songs has meant that it has been hard to judge exactly where they were. T4W therefore offers almost the first opportunity to do so and the inescapable conclusion is that these guys have come a very long way indeed.
My only real concern in advance about the record was, based on the live shows, that it might be too relentless, too frantic. But whilst T4W retains the energy of the live shows the quieter passages, allied to the instrumental ‘A Half Built House’ and the closing acoustic ‘An Almighty Thud’, ensure that the record is a fully rounded experience.
So, yes, if you like your Jetpacks in frantic mode – there’s plenty for you here – single ‘Quiet Little Voices’, ‘Ships With Holes Will Sink’ and ‘Short Bursts’ offer that in spade loads. But I think my favourites are the songs which show that WWPJ are about more than just melody suffused energy.
The epic 8 minute plus ‘Keeping Warm’ with its astonishing intro demonstrates the band’s ability to build tension rather than go just flat out whilst ‘This Is My House, This Is My Home’ is another that builds from a quiet opening to devastating effect.
If I have a criticism of the record it’s that, just occasionally, it sounds a little bit over-cooked but even to voice that is over stating the point. Because ‘These Four Walls’ is better than I ever dared to hope. These Jetpacks are already flying.