We Were Promised Jetpacks - E Rey Live In Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

We Were Promised Jetpacks

E Rey Live In Philadelphia (2014)

FatCat Records

We Were Promised Jetpacks have been monstrous in the past. These Four Walls and In the Pit of the Stomach are two records I felt deserved much more attention than they garnered. But the Scotsmen have more than done their brand justice, popping up in films like "Hall Pass" and also, on soundtracks to the CW11 shows -- and if that's not making it, then really, what is? This live album doesn't set a fire though. What it does, is add a truckload of fuel, to a sound that's been burning silently and emotively for quite some time, and this beckons well for when their next record drops. And it better fucking be soon.

"Short Bursts" and "Human Error" are done through the usual distorted guitars and tenacious drumming of Darren Lackie. His quickfire hands are phenomenal and as tight as it gets, his crashing on the cymbals really accentuate the band's archetype of varying tempos and melodies. They switch gears so often and these two as openers represent those changes in pace so well -- from lulls to heavier tempos and this interchanges back and forth. There isn't as much interplay between the guitarists as you'd expect but Adam Thompson (Guitar/Vocals) and Michael Palmer (Guitar) vary it up enough, as fans would know, to keep you roped in. Their distortion is played up even more and so fucking loud, but all in good stead to highlight how polished the sound truly is.

Recorded at Philly's Union Transfer during WWPJ's 2012 tour, the twinkly intro of "Quiet Little Voices" spins off with the guitars switching to a more vibrant and cutting style and you hear the echoing Thompson even more pronounced. This is a great effect to back what they're doing. The pounding drums add even more depth to Thompson's range as he plays more off Mackie than the guitars. They skew seamlessly into the slow, dramatic build of "Sore Thumb" with a thudding beat on Mackie's kit to build on the resonance of the calm, melodic guitars. Again, most of their music stands out due to clever breakdowns and diligent musical variations, but what makes Thompson ever so astute on the mic is how he subtly weaves in his vocal idiosyncrasies on top of the not-too-intricate guitars. This highlights how non-complex yet telling they want their sound to be. It gradually creeps to 2:40 before another boisterous explosion. They love building to this crescendo and by this point, you'll be convinced that this is a juggernaut of a record. Each song burns into a dizzying plume that lifts Thompson so well. "Act on Impulse" was one of the tracks I missed as it's one of my top three from WWPJ and after seeing it used in NFL ads on ESPN, I swore it'd be here, as well as the pacy "Circles and Squares."

Hearing those two would have certainly made it perfect but they make up with a tease of the new single "Peace Sign" which focuses on stumbling guitar lines and a more bass-ridden ebb and flow. It comes off a la The Cure or Depeche Mode with a nice, relaxed atmosphere but it's embedded with tension and a sombre feel. It's a great foil to an album that's intense and built on taut breakdowns which all help the narrative of Thompson. "You and me and I've been walking over peace signs / I've been walking like a dog all day. I've been walking over egg shells / I've been slipping on the yolks as well" pans out a more hazier number than the usual driving rock disposition. But as with most of the record, it pummels as hard as ever. It's an enamoring feeling when a band you love does something as unique as this without trying to be too unique. "Pear Tee" and "It's Thunder & It's Lightning" end with a barrage and by then, you're left hoping a live DVD drops. This was certainly worth the wait. Happy Belated Valentine's to me.