We Were Promised Jetpacks have been honing their skills as indie rock songwriters since 2003. The More I Sleep The Less I Dream shows the Scottish band demonstrate their maturity as they seamlessly stitch together driving drums, psychedelic guitars and dynamic riffs.
How do you start your first record in four years? How do you show that you still have the energy to ‘rock’ in a world seemingly disenfranchised by the word?
If you’re We Were Promised Jetpacks, you disregard the expectation entirely. “Impossible” opens The More I Sleep The Less I Dream with sparkling, delay-heavy guitars. These atmospheric elements are counterpointed perfectly by pounding toms. This introduction is unexpectedly low-key, but the driving drums seem to build towards a climax that comes in the following “In Light”. The fuzzed out riffing of this song’s intro is countered by a groove-oriented verse and a unique hook: ‘In life we’ll meet again.’ Thus far, in the record, we know that WWPJ can reflect and that they can rock. What else can they do?
First single “Hanging In” suggests that they can dance. The song’s 6/8 beat and light arpeggios seem built to get people moving dreamily on the floor. However, they subvert expectations with some fuzzy guitars and driving chords to build momentum in an otherwise relaxed number. The spacey introspection of the single continues on into guitar interlude “Improbable”, perhaps marking a conceptual shift in the album from the record’s opening “Impossible” – becoming more optimistic or confident. This hopefulness continues through the dance-oriented, festival-ready numbers that fill out most of the album’s run-time. But more is in store.
What makes WWJP so interesting is their ability to warp tropes into new territory. This ability is no better executed than with the album’s closing and title track. “The More I Sleep, The Less I Dream” begins like many of the other tracks on the album with clean, dreamy guitars. The lethargic, swinging drums and drunken, bending guitars evoke the image of a last dance at a party that’s gone on too long. However, a fuzzy guitar line sneaks into this established vibe, adding increasingly ominous tension to the track. This subterranean energy builds into the darkest and heaviest moment of the record, making for a particularly memorable end before resolving with a return to the song’s clean introductory section.
We Were Promised Jetpacks understand their craft well enough to know when to break the rules, but also when to play by them. The established Scottish group can create songs that will get them on the radio, and tracks that will get their fans moving at shows. But their capacity to break past traditional terrain and into new ground is what makes their fourth output, The More I Sleep The Less I Dream, merit repeat listens. This ability is not used as often as I would have liked throughout the record, for better or worse, but this restraint leaves me wanting more.