Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The best thing about the name of the Scottish band, We Were Promised Jetpacks, is all of the disappointment that's bundled up in that mouthful of a phrase. That it can serve as an identity, and applied to all manner of setback - or the world turning out to be so much different than advertised - isn't surprising, but it is unconventional. What is could mean, in shorthand is, "We were lied too and this sucks." Where are all the hovercrafts and where are our sky-walking capabilities? They should have been here by now. Ray Bradbury's a bit to blame for this, but he's just one of thousands of dreamers who imagined better things than all that we're offered nowadays. It's only right that someone should shoulder the burden of all that was thought to be inevitable and thereby guaranteed to the masses via sheer luck and attrition. Part of the thought, tied into the name, even has to do with the thought that it's not just going to be let go. The promises were made and that still makes them promises. No one who made those promises are off the hook because they haven't delivered. Are the gods to blame and be held responsible? Are our foolish and gullible selves the ones we should be deriding and hounding about the failed future that we're living? We Were Promised Jetpacks' music sounds as if it's been bitten by those promises and it's not sure what to feel about it. There's a tone that crops up fairly often - as it does on the song "Roll Up Your Sleeves," of just sleeping it off. If one stays in bed long enough, the world outside the house has a better chance of being altered while you slumber off the numbness. Lead singer Adam Thompson sings, "Roll up your sleeves/We're heading for winter, I know/The nights will get colder/…We'll wake when we're older," and we're drawn into this idea of closing our eyes and making all of the drab and predictable present drift away into a different world where there are jetpacks, amongst other things. The band, which is completed with guitarist Michael Palmer, bassist Sean Smith and drummer Darren Lackie, makes its music feel as if there's nothing like a good catharsis, something to jar the system - as if the smelling salts had been brought out and, suddenly, things are different. There's nothing quite like getting those personal injustices off of a chest, just rearing back and letting loose with some pent up rustling, trying to push the moon further back in the sky by a couple hundred feet. It's an emotional stream of thought that Thompson taps into and his bandmates execute, bringing to life all of the feelings that were already feeling very lively within them, hurting them a bit as they simmered and grew into meaningful assignments of blame. There's a desire and a yearning on the group's last full-length, "These Four Walls," that want for just a little something more, any kind of replacement of the stagnancy for something that's charged, something that's a bit scary. It's a plea for youth again and it's a plea for such things that make us choke on our breaths again, anything that will get us worked up.