It’s been more than 8 years since I first wrote about We Were Promised Jetpacks.
In that time just about the only constant has been their thirst for change. Given that they changed their entire set between the first and second live shows I saw, it doesn’t come as anything of a surprise that third LP ‘Unravelling’ is a significant departure from their previous two long players – in a number of regards.
With Paul Savage at the production helm ‘Unravelling’ is the Jetpacks’ most subtle record to date. Opening track ‘Safety In Numbers’ sets the tone, floating in on a wash of synths quite unlike anything they’ve done before.
Compared to the energy of ‘These Four Walls’ and the heavy riffing of ‘In The Pit of the Stomach’, ‘Unravelling’ takes a different approach – taking time to build up to its crescendos but in doing so maximising the impact of the fewer occasions that they do cut loose. single and LP highpoint ‘I Keep It`Composed’ is the best, most thrilling, example of the new aesthetic at work.
Without doubt it’s also the Jetpacks’ most atmospheric set to date with layered keyboards prominent on most tracks. There’s also a greater range to Adam’s vocals including some falsetto and an often gentler tone.
In fact there’s only one track, ‘A Part of It’, which approximates the manic staccato guitars which were the trademark of the debut – restraint it seems is the order of the day here.
Elsewhere the band stake out new territory – ‘Night Terror’ replaces the monolithic guitars of previous records with a pulsing electro riff whilst there’s a proper instrumental too in the shape of the gorgeous ‘Peace of Mind’.
Of course all this change is only of use if the songs are any good. And resoundingly that’s the case here. In fact there’s a case to be made that the first five tracks on ‘Unravelling’ are as strong a run of songs as the band have yet put together.
It’s not a perfect record though as I’m not sure that the second side is quite as good as the first.
Certainly there’s plenty of stuff to enjoy, the aforementioned ’A Part of It’ injects a well timed dose of adrenaline to proceedings, whilst ‘Bright Minds’ is as good as anything on the first side.
But in amongst a lot of mid paced material, ‘Disconnecting’ sounds a little dirgey (ironically, it may have worked better on the previous records) whilst ‘Ricochet’ isn’t quite the epic finale that it’s striving to be.
But taken as a whole ‘Unravelling’ proves that WWPJ are without question one of Scotland’s most adventurous bands with their restless spirit continually driving them on to new heights.
Yet, despite sounding little like its predecessors, ‘Unravelling’ incontestably sounds like no one other than We Were Promised Jetpacks. Not a bad trick to be able to pull off.
Here’s the video for the single: