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We Were Promised Jetpacks
These Four Walls Iain Moffat , June 29th, 2009 05:56

There's nowt so rock'n'roll as discovering that the older generation turned out to be wrong, and, of course, there's nowt so 2009 as old-skool futurism. The best-named band to emerge in the last twelve months win on both counts. Intriguingly enough, though, while their moniker suggests a bunch whose formative Thursdays were spent in front of Tomorrow's World, We Were Promised Jetpacks have emerged with an album that indicates that, rather than sticking around afterwards for Top Of The Pops, they tended to make immediate exits in favour of the more obtuse delights of night-time Radio 1.

In fact, it's difficult to think of any album from the Class Of '09 that spreads itself so wholeheartedly across the spectrum of performers with Peel appeal. There are countless hints of Sonic Youth on show, for instance, although they do tend to err on the side of actual charging-in-from-far-afield tunes rather than atonal yowling, which results in such excellence as the recent single 'Quiet Little Voices'. Moreover, there's often a structural jitteriness in play that smacks of an artsy sensibility which nevertheless avoids tumbling into preciousness. Take, for example, the heads-down judder of 'Roll Up Your Sleeves', which gives way to a cascade of compactly windmilling guitars and tremuluous piano, bringing to mind turn-of-the-90s Blue Aeroplanes or, better yet, New Fast Automatic Daffodils; or the way 'Conductor' evolves into an ever-more-intense, twinkling hug of a chug, a trick they go on to build an entire song out of in the epic near-farewell 'Keeping Warm'. And as if that terrific new Jason Lytle album wasn't enough excitement for Grandaddy fans this year, 'Short Bursts' does a masterful job of shoving 'The Crystal Lake' into a barrel and hurtling down a mountain after it; needless to say, this is excellent behaviour.

Above and beyond all this, there's Adam Thompson's astonishing vocal dominating proceedings. Yes, his unashamed Scottishness will call to mind the Twilight Sad and Frightened Rabbit, both bands that the 'Packs have cheerfully acknowledged in their time; but, if anything, he gives an even more ravenous performance, towering and devouring amid the Frankenstein allusions of 'It's Thunder And It's Lightning', wrestling with wistfulness on the unexpectedly acoustic-inclined 'An Almighty Thud', and thoroughly luminous among the cryptic horrors of 'This Is My House, This Is My Home'. In fact, it's astonishing to think that hearing them instrumentally could impress as much, but then they go and do 'A Half Built House', which revisits the tender delights of the post-rock heyday with a deft, starfaring panache that's as close as they come to the space age conceits their handle suggests.

Alright, so These Four Walls might be a slightly magpie-ish affair, but it's also a sparkling showcase for a young band of fathomless appetites, considered discernment, and noisy allure. In a more just world than this, their takeoff would be assured.

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