It’s hard to imagine that there was a time in my life when We Were Promised Jetpacks was not around. I’ve spent so much time with their music I feel like we grew up together. I think my first experience with the band came in 2007, when I saw the name of the group and immediately downloaded whatever I could find, just to check them out.
This isn’t always a great way to go about things. You often end up getting music that in no way lives up to the name. We Were Promised Jetpacks was one of the exceptions. Not only did the music live up to the awesomeness of the name, it went one step further into just plain awesome.
Now, after a long wait, WWPJ have released their second full-length record, and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been listening to In The Pit Of The Stomach since last week, in between other stuff that I was reviewing, and I’ve really been digging it. I’m well past my minimum number of spins or a review, so let me give you my assessment.
This album isn’t really a step forward, but a step to the side. Following the path being led by The Strokes, WWPJ have decided that the best way to avoid the sophomore slump is to make a record that sounds a lot like the first one. I don’t think this is a bad thing (hell, I love Room On Fire). There are some small steps taken, and that’s really all I wanted.
First off, the record begins with rock. I feel like this was important because WWPJ has a habit of allowing a lot of quiet areas in their songs. Kicking off with a rocker like “Circles and Squares” tells me that this album will be more direct. And it’s true, there is a small amount of material where they let it get away from them a bit. For the most part, though, they keep their eyes on the prize.
Musically In The Pit Of The Stomach is eerily similar to These Four Walls, but it’s more polished. The bass lines are great throughout, and they seem to be more confident than before. The mix seems to be done a bit better as well, so that the words are a little more distinguishable. Which is good on songs with lyrics both haunting and sad as well as resonant and smart.
On “Act On Impulse,” vocalist Adam Thompson repeats, “We act alone, we act on impulse” at least a dozen times, with a musical backdrop that never really changes except in volume. Maybe it’s their way of saying people don’t change, history repeats itself, get used to it. On “Boy In The Backseat,” Thompson bellows “I’m keeping myself to myself, still gathering dust on the shelf, if there’s breath in my lungs then this war can be won.”
The more I listen to this record, the more I enjoy it. At first I felt like it could never live up to its predecessor. These Four Walls has been played on my iPod so many times that when I click on it the first song doesn’t pop up, but a message that says, “Seriously?” I’ve loved this band for a long time, and it’s gonna take a while for me to admit it, but In The Pit Of The Stomach may just have improved on something that was already as close to perfect as music should get.