Like their friends in The Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, the members of the Scot-rock act We Were Promised Jetpacks excel at freezing moments. The band’s debut album, These Four Walls, even opens with a precise image—“Right foot followed by your left foot / got to get you home by curfew”—that captures the feeling of stumbling home drunk in the dark of night. The song, “It’s Thunder And It’s Lightning,” finds frontman Adam Thompson moving from a near-mumble to a howl, as his mates shift from a thick rumble of rapidly strummed guitars to a torrent of distortion and hammering percussion. Yet throughout, the lyrics remain dreamy and impressionistic, built on just-so phrases that gain in impact as Thompson repeats them with mounting anxiety. We Were Promised Jetpacks holds to this formula on aggressive rock songs like “Short Bursts,” “Quiet Little Voices,” and “Roll Up Your Sleeves,” all of which have more in common with the howling emotion and cavernous guitar sound of Big Country than the bright melancholy of Belle And Sebastian or the jagged danceability of Franz Ferdinand. And yet We Were Promised Jetpacks has some further kinship with those other bands, beyond nationality. These Four Walls is like a 50-minute, 11-song tour through the Scottish scene’s past, present, and future, emphasizing how much of the country’s best pop music has been concerned with transporting listeners to specific places, so we can all linger there together.
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