We Were Promised Jetpacks - In The Pit Of The Stomach Album Review
It's been something of a slow-burning process for Edinburgh quartet We Were Promised Jetpacks in piecing together that archetypical "difficult" second album. Having existed as a band for the best part of a decade now, they're still only in the infancy stage as far as releases go, having enjoyed a whirlwind start to life as a signed band three years ago on the back of lead single (and some would say albatross) 'Quiet Little Voices'. Of course, anyone that's seen them live or heard their excellent debut 'These Four Walls' will quickly spring to their defence, casually reminding all and sundry that aforementioned single is merely the tip of a potentially inflammatory iceberg.
Perhaps of greater concern is that the initial buzz surrounding We Were Promised Jetpacks had both peaked then petered out by the end of 2009. Indeed in what is a consumer and market driven society where anything and everything is deemed disposable, it's easy to become forgotten, particularly when many products of a similar nature have a lifespan totalling three months or less.
Its to the band's credit then that rather than rush release the first ten ideas that came into their heads to capitalise on the critical acclaim 'These Four Walls' received, they've taken the majority of the ensuing period out, preferring to retreat back to the drawing board in order to create a follow-up worthy of the name. And make no mistake, while 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' doesn't represent a giant leap forward in terms of the band's sound or make-up, it's a thought provoking collection of outbursts and songs mostly set to visceral guitar riffs which suggests their long term plan may be to challenge Biffy Clyro's eminence rather than join label mates Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad as cult heroes for the disenchanted.
If songs like 'It's Thunder And It's Lightning' and 'An Almighty Thud' off the first record set the scene for Adam Thompson's often troubled songwriting, then 'Circles And Squares', the opener here, raises the cholesterol levels a notch higher. Mixing brutal percussion with metallic riffage aplenty, Thompson's assertion that "I'm chasing my tail, it would help if I know where it ends" sounding innocently straightforward until declaring "Life in a coma could be quite fun" later on.
There's no real let up for the first half of the record either, as both 'Medicine' and 'Through The Dirt And The Gravel' continue to bludgeon the senses whilst screaming blue murder directly in the proximity of one's face. The slow build-up and slightly ponderous delay at the beginning of 'Act On Impulse' offers little more than a false sense of security before a cavalcade of drums take over engulfed in a mantra-like wall of noise. 'Hard To Remember' drops the volume levels down a touch, its structural complexity proving a subtle midpoint antidote to all that's gone before.
"I'm thinking to myself is it me or just a picture of health?" spits Thompson in what's fast becoming his trademark gruff voice on 'Picture Of Health', his accomplices once again trading heavily orchestrated riffs with symphonic layers to create a sweet and sour combo in musical terms. 'Boy In The Backseat' takes a more mellow approach before the closing couplet of 'Human Error' and gargantuan finale 'Pear Tree' leave the listener in no doubt that 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' and its creators mean business.
A rewarding if uneasy listen from start to finish, We Were Promised Jetpacks have created an exercise in aural brutality to fit their own intensive needs. More importantly, sophomore album syndrome emphatically overcome, 'In The Pit Of The Stomach' stands tall as one savagely constructed beast.