Upon first listen of We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ sophomore album “In The Pit Of The Stomach” one thing comes to mind; they stepped up and made an album that shows a pleasant departure from the somber ballads I had loved in their first album, “These Four Walls,” and grew as a band.
“In The Pit Of The Stomach” is well-titled, because that is just where you’ll feel it. As usual, Adam Thompson’s lyrics are gut wrenching in his native Scottish tongue, sung full-heartedly and at times painfully with emotion. Matching perfectly with Sean Smith’s slightly over-driven Fender bass tone and clever grooves that lock in with drummer Darren Lackie’s fast hands and steady feet. Add Michael Palmer’s high register riffs and lush melodies, you’re taken to a faraway place inside yourself.
As a whole, the album is darker and rougher with a new found maturity that comes from two years on the road between studio time. The opening track, “Circles and Squares,” drives the listener home with a bombardment of guitars and cymbals, then fades away to the main guitar riff and an amazing bass groove. Moving into the album with tracks like “Medicine” and “Human Error,” Thompson’s accent prevails in his lyrics, bringing a pleasant separation from many of the “indie” bands currently dominating the scene.
For those that love their first album as I do, you have not been forgotten. “Act On Impulse” and “Sore Thumb” whisk you away in a sea of tranquility of lovely guitars and drumming, bringing you just the right amount of nostalgia. “Act On Impulse” could open up any great scene in a movie, with the song’s gradual crescendo. I especially loved the use of bass chords at the opening of “Sore Thumb” and Adam’s distant vocals towards the halfway mark, separating him from the song. I can’t put enough good things to say about “Through The Dirt And The Gravel.” Musically this song has a bit of everything for the listener, an outrageous bass run that had me wishing it prevailed throughout the whole song, but is so tastefully written and leaves so much room for the rest of the guys to work their parts, it shows the maturity I was talking about earlier.
I emailed the band a few questions and Sean Smith emailed me back with some insight to the new album.
Scott: Upon listening to your new album “In The Pit Of The Stomach” the vocals stand out as the most notable change to your overall sound. Was this a conscious decision?
Sean: This was an unconscious decision that we decided to make. I suppose the vocals are maybe a little more relaxed, I don’t know, is that what you mean? With this album we didn’t think about it too much, we just did what felt good! So we stuck it in all the way.
Scott: Your previous releases “These Four Walls” and “The Last Place You’ll Look” are beautifully written and very “clean” compared to “In The Pit Of The Stomach” which has a raw edge to it, that really makes the album stand out from the previous two. Being your second full release, was there any pressure on yourselves as musicians to step outside your comfort zone and take a chance?
Sean: No we didn’t feel that we were under any pressure to step out of our comfort zone. It’s only our second album. We stuck our toes out of our comfort zone when writing and recording ‘The Last Place You’ll Look’ but for ‘In The Pit of The Stomach’ we just wanted to record a rock album with better songs and better production than our first album.
There is a certain rawness to this record, I was feeling as if I was sitting on a bar stool listening to them play live and I believe that is their intent. Capturing the two years spent on the road, harnessing it and coming out with an album that tells the story of a band traveling the world, touring and finding themselves.