Difficult second album syndrome refers to an instance in which a second, or sophmore, album fails to live up to the standards of the first effort. Cheers Wikipedia, invaluable as always. This curse has affected great bands for decades, from The Stone Roses to The Strokes, so isn’t it refreshing when a band follow up a great LP (2009’s These Four Walls) with something even more impressive? We Were Promised Jetpacks have done just this with their second record In The Pit Of The Stomach. Recorded in Iceland in Sigur Ros’ studio no less, the album marks a noticeable progression and development in the band’s sound. Ambitious and intelligently arranged throughout, it’s evident the band have rushed nothing and created a record where even the tiniest element has been lovingly perfected and refined.
Things kick off in a frantic, breathless fashion with the superb Circles And Squares. Crashing, manic drums and choppy, distorted guitars providing the perfect backdrop for Adam Thompson’s distant vocal and as the first track reaches it’s stunning climax it’s clear we’ve got something quite special on our hands. First single Medicine follows, complete with massive and infectious chorus; it’s a band at the top of their game, exuding confidence and ambition. Act On Impulse initially highlights a softer side to the band, before the tranquility is quickly replaced by an inevitable build up of noise. Lyrically dark and sombre “you were dead when we arrived/you died on impact”, it’s another engaging and intelligent piece of music and illustrates how far this band have come.
The record continues in a similarly impressive fashion. Sore Thumb although more instrumental and subtle is still forward thinking and dynamic throughout. Human Error the shortest and perhaps most orthodox track on the album is still superb. Album closer Pear Tree strips things back, and gives us a tender and gentle couple of minutes before slowly piece by piece building up again to a soaring and spectacular conclusion.
So about that difficult second album… We Were Promised Jetpacks have succeeded where countless others have failed and delivered a second album that has exceeded expectations. In The Pit Of The Stomach is a bold, clever and adventurous record throughout and is exactly how a band should approach album number two.
From Alex Walker