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Live Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks at 9:30 Club, Washington, DC – 23rd October 2018

By on Thursday, 25th October 2018 at 2:00 pm

Nine years ago, a lifetime ago, Brighton’s FatCat Records sponsored a tour of their then-shining stars from their roster. While the top of the bill starred two bands with more established careers, the opening band was riding high on a wave of hype here in America. The oddly and improbably named We Were Promised Jetpacks were greeted by raucous cheers from our local college students. Sadly, my review of the night for American blog PopWreckoning has been lost to the ether; you’ll have to read about it in this Washington Post Express article instead. No matter: How could I forget the raw energy of the band’s performance, bolstered by frontman Adam Thompson’s shouty, emphatic vocals? I hadn’t seen the band live since 2011, and I’m happy to report following their show at 9:30 Club on Tuesday that the Glasgow via Edinburgh rockers haven’t lost their edge or their penchant for drawing out anticipation through noodley post-rock instrumentals.

Even after four studio albums and numerous world tours, it appears the vocal fan approval continues to be overwhelming to a band as humble as they are. As if time had stood still, Thompson appeared as uncomfortable as he did in 2009, fending off the loud cheering for their songs with self-deprecating barbs and bashful grins. We Were Promised Jetpacks started and remains a band of childhood friends, blood brothers who have remained united following guitarist Michael Palmer’s diagnosis and successful fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a time when bands don’t have much longevity, a band who’s been around for 15 years and still enjoy being around each other is a satisfying exception from the norm.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 3

There’s been talk that ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’, their first album for Big Scary Monsters released last month, is a bit more polished than what we’re used to from them. I don’t see this as a negative but rather an expected evolution over a decade of making music together. Palmer has said of the LP, “The album is so much about us going back to our basics and relying on our instincts. There’s a range of songs that span everything we do as a band, and we’re the connection between them. It feels like this album is us.”

Going off that, if this new album is a representation of We Were Promised Jetpacks now, then their set list Tuesday night that mixed up the four chapters of their story far could be read as a kind of greatest hits. The visceral rawness of ‘baby’ Jetpacks on ‘It’s Thunder and Lightning’ and ‘Ships With Holes Will Sink’ set against the periods of instrumental goodness of ‘Sore Thumb’ and sheer power of ‘Human Error’ prove what this band is capable of. This is a band who rely on their collective fire power and ability to build a wall of sound, not flashy gimmicks. For punters, watching them is truly mesmerising. When they brought out ‘Keeping Warm’, their post-rock nod to the growing pains of adolescence, someone in the audience shouted, “do it for Scott [Hutchison]!” It was a emotional moment.

We Were Promised Jetpacks Washington 2018 2

There seemed two glaring omissions from the setlist: my favourites ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’ (check out this 2009 Bands to Watch!) and ‘Quiet Little Voices’, with all their enjoyable hooting and hollering, were nowhere to be found. Famously known to refuse to do encores, the band ended with ‘Repeating Patterns’ from the new album and all of us fans dancing something I can only describe as a stuttering discotheque boogie. Instead of feeling cheated, I walked into the cold Washington night with a smile on my face and the comfort that we’ll have this Scottish band and their music for a good while longer. To read any of our past coverage on We Were Promised Jetpacks, check out the articles through here.


Video of the Moment #2886: We Were Promised Jetpacks

By on Wednesday, 29th August 2018 at 6:00 pm

Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks are returning next month with a new album. An early taster proves they haven’t lost their touch, and they’ll be back and louder than ever. ‘Repeating Patterns’, part of a collection that has been 4 years in the making, shows off its fine guitar work that’s slightly less chaotic and vocals from Adam Thompson that are slightly less shouty.

Coupled with finger puppets that look like rejects from Sesame Street, there’s an endearing feel to the single’s promo video that add to the track’s intrigue. Watch and listen to ‘Repeating Patterns’ below. Stay tuned for ‘The More I Sleep the Less I Dream’, which drops on Big Scary Monsters on the 14th of September. They’ll be on tour in North American in September and October, followed by dates in the UK and Europe in November and December 2018. To read our past coverage on We Were Promised Jetpacks over the years, go here.


Video of the Moment #1741: We Were Promised Jetpacks

By on Wednesday, 11th February 2015 at 6:00 pm

Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks – now a five-piece – have released a new promo video this week for ‘Peaks and Troughs’. The tune appears on ‘Unravelling’, their third album for Fat Cat Records released last October. The song has an unsettling vibe to it, which starts off only mildly creepy, and just gets progressively weirder and weirder as the video goes on. Is that a benign comet or a more sinister asteroid in the distance? Watch the video below.

Past TGTF coverage on WWPJ is this way.



Album Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling

By on Thursday, 23rd October 2014 at 12:00 pm

At a time when the term apathy is almost an outlawed word in Scotland, it’s ironic that an album by a band from north of Hadrian’s Wall inspires an overwhelmingly apathetic feeling within me. From the beginning of We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ third outing ‘Unravelling’ – barring sparse sections of the record – all I could think was what else I could be doing rather than listen to this record.

Maybe I’ll listen to the new We Are the Ocean song ‘ARK’. That’s been buzzing around my head nicely for a while. Or perhaps I’ll try and write a feature piece on that BBC Music cover creation of ‘God Only Knows’, to delve into the madness where they put Dave Grohl in the same vein as (definition of flash in the pan) Sam Smith. Or perhaps I’ll listen to that 30-second snippet of the new Foo Fighters album in the documentary promo.

For me, those thoughts gave the underlying impression of an album that failed to do what I demand from music. It neither grabbed me, nor did it take me on a journey, nor did it inspire any poignant emotion within me – barring apathy – if that can be classified as a discernable emotion. I didn’t feel it was truly experimental either; there was nothing which jumped out and grabbed me and made me think, nobody else is doing that at the moment.

The record truly just doesn’t get going until quarter of an hour in, despite flecks of promise at the end of LP opener ‘Safety in Numbers’. ‘Night Terror’ at least had enough about to wake me from the faux-slumber I drifted into at the top of the album. Perhaps I was expecting too much? But when the NME call their second album “Punchy, literate guitar music”, I expect a bit of punch before around 25 minutes into the blooming thing. ‘A Part of It’ starts off with a bit of bite and vigour, almost enough to nudge me awake from my stasis.


From the brilliantly angst-ridden breakout record of ‘These Four Walls’, We Were Promised Jetpacks showed a great promise in the brilliantly honest songwriting that underpinned the power of their debut outing. Despite their being an almost overwhelming sense of anxiety throughout ‘Unravelling’, this album just doesn’t hit the emotional highs and lows that predecessors have found the note on. As far as British post-rock is going, the group looked certain to push their way to the forefront, but this album despite having all the sheen of a brilliant production and some slick guitar work just feels a little underwhelming.

I just thought a band with the word ‘jetpacks’ in the title may be a little more exciting with maturity, but even after ‘Unravelling’, I still think we’re waiting for lift-off.


Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ third album ‘Unravelling’ is out now on FatCat Records. Read Mary’s review of previous single ‘I Keep It Composed’ here.


Video of the Moment #1629: We Were Promised Jetpacks

By on Tuesday, 16th September 2014 at 6:00 pm

We Were Promised Jetpacks have a new promo for ‘I Keep It Composed’, the second song to be revealed from their upcoming third album ‘Unravelling’. It will be the Scottish band’s next single on Fat Cat Records. I reviewed the single 2 weeks ago here on TGTF and you can read my thoughts on it here.

I’m not so sure the theme of their new video is timed all that well, considering we’re still reeling from the Malaysian Airlines disaster in the Ukraine. But I suppose if there was any time to ‘keep it composed’, it’s after you’ve escaped death and you’ve got no-one to protect you except yourself. Given that they’re Scottish, I also wonder if the video’s meaning is a veiled indication as to which side they’ve taken on the Scottish Referendum. Watch the video below.

We Were Promised Jetpacks are currently on tour in the UK.



Single Review: We Were Promised Jetpacks – I Keep It Composed

By on Tuesday, 2nd September 2014 at 12:00 pm

Subtlety was never We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ strong suit. In their debut album ‘These Four Walls’, the emphatic vocal style adopted by frontman Adam Thompson accompanied by the relentless instrumental sound of the band on ‘Quiet Little Voices’ was many fans’ first introduction to the Scottish group. (Another standout from their debut, ‘Roll Up Your Sleeves’, was incidentally the first song I’d heard from them, leading me to write this Bands to Watch in August 2009.) ‘Medicine’, the first single from their 2011 album ‘In the Pit of the Stomach’, followed a similar formula, with a driving rhythm and unwavering vocals. However, the latest new material to come from the WWPJ camp bears a curious title: ‘I Keep It Composed’. It follows track ‘Safety in Numbers’, which was unveiled in July.

Thompson stretches his vocal cords a bit more on this track, while also bending and holding his notes as well, giving the track a psychedelic feel at times. The bass line seems more pronounced than on their past recordings, but it remains to be seen live if it’s due to the mix and not an actual change in sound or playing on Sean Smith’s part why this is the case. And the overall sound is fuller, and this is no doubt thanks to the bringing on of a fifth band member, Stuart McGachan, who plays guitar and keyboards. Indeed, it’s McGachan’s notes that seem to provide most clarity in a wall of sound slowly buzzing and building towards the song’s eventual climax.

The problem isn’t so much the musicianship; what We Were Promised Jetpacks have created here is good. It’s just not terribly interesting or unique. Perhaps this was the point: ‘I Keep It Composed’ wasn’t recorded to be a pop masterpiece, or even to be a radio-friendly song like ‘Safety in Numbers’. (Now why wasn’t that released as a single, huh?) The title, sounding tongue in cheek, sounded like we were to expect something a bit different from these Scots, but it seems we were sorely disappointed. What will the rest of new album ‘Unravelling’ sound like? Guess we’ll have to wait for October to come to find out.


‘I Keep It Composed’ is the first single from We Were Promised Jetpacks‘ forthcoming third album ‘Unravelling’. The single drops on the 22nd of September on Fat Cat Records, with the LP to follow on the 6th of October. Catch the band on tour in the UK in September and October.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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