To abolish absolutely any projections of In the Pit of the Stomach
as the notorious sophomore slump, We Were Promised Jetpacks detonate a HUGE sound. The Glasgow foursome (who are often described as post-punk, a genre so revered in my mind, ya can't just throw it around) bludgeon listeners with brash noise, dirty basslines, and drumming so urgent I almost want to punch a wall. It's grimy and great. Coupled with Adam Thompsons heavily accented call-and-response, In the Pit of the Stomach
is capable of never leaving the ground and never quite staying there, not sure of whether to be all or nothing.
"Circles and Squares" is the album's colossal kickoff. There's no room to breath as one of the core components of the band—the gutsy guitar riff—works to force-feed immediacy. In opposition to these slathered guitar pieces, many songs on this album follow a similar pattern: build in noise and fall off into melody. With the first segment of the album, including "Circles and Squares", "Medicine" and "Through the Dirt and the Gravel" we see provocative hooks, whether it is a skittering drum, a wall of feedback, or an unstoppable bass murmur, followed closely by a chewy pop nucleus. The songs either continue in this fashion or turn the shred back up to 11, thus why the "Act on Impulse" is a worthy respite. The careful and tranquil intro is less energetic than other tracks, but melody is inherent as it gathers fuzz like a lint trap. Instead of merely forming an impenetrable sound blast, it fills in the blanks with catchy-as-hell bass patterns and rat-a-tat drumming, topped off with groaning keyboards. Thompson's vocals, for the first time thus far, are distant and breathy.
Concerning the latter half of the album, I prefer the instrumentalism on "Sore Thumb". For five minutes we barely hear Thompson's familiar bawl and are let free to reach for something visceral through all the layers. "Picture of Health" screams out as an obvious single; it is accessible, moveable and more relaxed than "Medicine". "Picture" truly shimmers with a sublime guitar crescendo out of nowhere, surprisingly beautiful and frantic. Two tracks in particular captivate the intensity of post-punk's manic nature: "Hard to Remember" and the closer, "Pear Tree". "Hard to Remember" is a soul-crusher; its dissonance delicious and all-encompassing, and it bops back down into bliss. "Pear Tree" revels in dirty sinister motions and forgets half-way through to be mean, as a gentle single chord is repeated. As with the rest of the record, it forms right on top of itself but wails into FANTASTIC BLOODY CHAOS. Believe me, it's worthy of the caps lock.
Difficult and loud, In the Pit of the Stomach
is not for the faint-hearted or the weak-bellied. While it can get dizzying and pulls the listener up and down like one of those nausea-inducing rides at the boardwalk, there is purity in hardcore thrashing aggression. Find it, if you dare.
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MP3: "Act On Impulse"