We Were Promised Jetpacks – ‘Enjoy The View’

By Fiachra Johnston

We’re still in that strange period of time where much of the music we’re seeing released has been produced entirely within pandemic lockdowns. For some, world events take centre stage in their work, and for others, the whole topic of last year is something to avoid like the plague. With founding member Michael Palmer parting ways with Scottish indie darlings We Were Promised Jetpacks, the now-trio have taken this chance to rebuild themselves and explore new avenues. The result, ‘Enjoy The View’, doesn’t shake the foundations of indie-rock, but with a renewed vigour it is perhaps the group’s most cohesive studio record yet.

As Jetpacks have said in the past, they’ve always considered themselves a live band, but have taken the last year as an opportunity to focus on producing music for a record rather than planning for how it’ll play live. Working remotely, there’s certainly some underlying differences to much of the album. Digital drums and some very atmospheric open-air production become immediately apparent on the record’s wailing opener of ‘Not Me Anymore’, a surprisingly haunting introduction to the album that follow-up hard hitters ‘Fat Chance’ and ‘All That Glittered’ take advantage of with some kicker drum-lines of their own.

Despite the set up changes there’s a lot in these two tracks that will feel familiar to fans, the indie-pop guitars and chirpy bass weaving nicely with synths and those iconic Scottish vocals. But, that said, ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath For Too Long’ is a fine example of the little changes that the last year have brought for Jetpacks, with echoing atmospheric guitars building themselves up before launching into a thoroughly danceable chorus. These loose guitars play a wonderfully impactful role in the album’s slower moments, like ‘’What I Know Now’, pairing well with backing synths that really bring out the best in these tracks.

There’s also renewed radiance from Adam Thompson on the record, with some of his best vocals on tracks like the cheerily gloomy (and wholly oxymoronic) ‘I Wish You Well’ or the Kaiser Chiefs-levels of funky ‘Blood Sweat, Tears’. At its best these small course corrections, the tight drums contrasting against the very open guitars and backed by some impressive vocals, make ‘Enjoy The View’ one of Jetpacks most cohesive sounding records yet, and it’s clear their time away from live performances has not gone to waste.

For some, these moments of change might not be far enough removed from the Jetpacks sound to warrant a change of opinion. Said little moments are a nice display of the band toying around with their style, but there’s just not enough of them in the album to feel like anything more than nice experiments. If you’re on the fence about their sound, it’s not going to convince you otherwise. Still, there are some cheeky little entries late into the record, such as the crestfallen ‘Nothing Ever Changes’, with its tinges of punk in the biting guitar lines, that are excellent additions to their tried and true sound. ‘Just Don’t Think About It’ closes the album, pairing nicely with the opening track as it returns to those haunting echoing vocals to create an almost cyclical nature to the record.

It may not be the grand reinvention Jetpacks may have been shooting for, but ‘Enjoy The View’ often quietly rejects the trio’s previous big-stage indie sound in favour of a smaller, more personal-sounding record. While there are moments of bombastic energy that will certainly make for grandiose live performances, it’s the softer moments best heard on an album playthrough that elicit the best out of the trio. For a band that claims to base themselves on the wet weather of Scotland, ‘Enjoy The View’ is anything but a dampener.

FIACHRA JOHNSTON

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