We Were Promised Jetpacks have returned to form by letting loose.
Scottish indie rockers We Were Promised Jetpacks say their fourth album, The More I Sleep the Less I Dream, is about reconnecting with what drove them to want to be in a band together in the first place. They set about songwriting in a way they’d first learned to—structure, patterns, accessibility. But according to guitarist Michael Palmer, they eventually tossed aside this more formal approach, realizing that what they enjoyed about the music they used to make was that it flowed more easily without the imposed structures of expectations.
The timing couldn’t be better to work with producer Jonathan Low, whose previous credits include work with Kurt Vile, the National and the War on Drugs. Right from the first droning arpeggio, the similarities— in melancholy, expansive scope and atmosphere— between the producer’s past collaborations and this record are apparent. Here, everything from the dream-pop-like “Impossible” to the lashed-out passion of “Make It Easier” draws the listener in and allows the mind to wander. If there is one major difference between the above-mentioned artists and this album, it’s that We Were Promised Jetpacks don’t spend a lot of time on repetition, instead milking every mood and dynamic for every emotional experience it’s got. In this way, the record is not as exhausting as some of the others can tend to be. While tracks separate easily into singles, which can be enjoyed in individual doses, The More I Sleep the Less I Dream seems like a contiguous listening experience, one which rewards repeat listens. At just 10 tracks, it’s almost as if it’s over too soon.
The album has its more accessible pop songs, too. “Hanging In” meanders over heavy percussion and bass to arpeggiated keys, which are measured in approach. A self-deprecating song about sticking with a challenging relationship is relatable, and, musically, it recognizes the balance between progression and aimless whimsy. After vocalist Adam Thompson says everything that needs to be said, he ends with the increasingly frustrated refrain, “You’re walking me, talking me/ Pushing me under the bus,” and the repetition of the line, “Don’t rush me.” That sentiment is followed masterfully by the mellow instrumental vignette “Improbable,” which ties in thematically with the opener, “Impossible.”
The album is not without its filler, and sadly the latter third doesn’t live up to the grand tone set on the beginning of the record. Both “When I Know More” and “Not Wanted” sound jammy and off-course comparatively. While “Repeating Patterns” attempts to rock out a little bit more, it comes off as out-of-place and overly frantic next to Thompson’s dramatic singing style. The title track ends the record on a positive note, highlighting every instrument and leaving enough silence and space to really appreciate the tight execution and talented songwriting in an example of how, throughout The More I Sleep the Less I Dream, We Were Promised Jetpacks have returned to form by letting loose.