As localized music scenes capture broader attention, the boundaries blur between the bands that count among the influential originals, and those that are mere copycats.
In the Scottish scene—which is making waves on England's Fat Cat Records—the tendency for young bands making names for themselves is to make a sophomore album that's bigger, bolder and louder than the debut. It's a sure way to meet heightened expectations without risking repetition, and Edinburgh's We Were Promised Jetpacks is no different.
Like label-mates and fellow Scots The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, We Were Promised Jetpacks have a guitar-heavy yet dance-ready attack that draws readily from both Manchester post-punk and 1990s American alternative.
Part of what stands out for We Were Promised Jetpacks are the punky shout-along choruses of guitar anthems like "Picture of Health" and "Circles and Squares." Elsewhere, "Act on Impulse" and "Hard to Remember" are brooding songs with reverberating low ends; they're ominous and edgy enough to balance out the arena bombast that drives the rest of the album.
The band is still wound up with youthful energy, but is already starting to branch into subtle variations in song structure and arrangement. While it's not entirely clear whether that's the result of artistic vision or enthusiastic experimentation, those compelling changes launch the band beyond what it achieved on These Four Walls.
In the Pit of the Stomach should place We Were Promised Jetpacks on the leading edge of Scot-pop.Published Oct. 20, 2011 in the Tucson Weekly.