We Were Promised Jetpacks – ‘The More I Sleep The Less I Dream’ (Album Review)
Here in the UK, two underground festivals stand far above the rest. Every July, 2000 Trees hosts a wealth of alternative bands whose music collectively tends towards the more commercial end of the non-mainstream spectrum, while a month or so later, ArcTanGent ushers about 5,000 people into its grounds for three days of niche acts – especially those fond of expensive and expansive guitar pedalboards and exotic effects. With The More I Sleep The Less I Dream, We Were Promised Jetpacks have become more compatible with the latter event than its double-capacity sibling.
Having scrapped a “calculated” set of presumably commercially-oriented tracks in favour of this collection of shoegaze-soaked indie rock, We Were Promised Jetpacks make it clear that they’re following their muses and communal internal compass rather than some bland, hazy treasure map. The More I Sleep The Less I Dream practically dares anyone who writes about it to make some kind of sleep-related reference right at the end of their piece, but I’m fucking that opportunity up for myself right now because it’s a painfully predictable move, and doesn’t fit with the fact that this album is a bold stylistic curveball. Quite honestly, I’ve not been a frothing-at-the-mouth fan of We Were Promised Jetpacks up to this point, although their lyrics are consistently high-quality – but I really enjoyed their new direction here.
It’s not something long-time fans will have seen coming, but they’re almost guaranteed to like it regardless.
Although this fresh mass of heavily mutated guitar tones, occasional forays into solid heaviness (such as the intro to second track In Light), and gutsy, majestic melodies will represent a tangential turn within We Were Promised Jetpacks’ discography when it sees the light of day, in the bigger picture it isn’t innovative by any stretch of the imagination. That said, it is still an impressive achievement, and closing pair Repeating Patterns and title track The More I Sleep The Less I Dream are two of the best songs We Were Promised Jetpacks have put out so far. One will turn rammed festival tents into moshing sweatboxes, while the other will be better suited to beard-stroking wizard lookalikes who like nothing more than to stand almost perfectly still and massage their facial hair, maybe going so far as to nod along and self-consciously mouth the words.
(For the record, I can’t grow much more than designer stubble – and reading that last sentence back, I’ve just realised how much once-dormant beard envy swelled up there. If I were capable of cultivating proper facial furniture, I’d totally be tweaking and twirling it while listening to that last track.)
The only major issue I have with The More I Sleep The Less I Dream is that it’s coming out in the middle of a rare British heatwave – and several of these songs are far more suited to our usual weather-diet of depressingly grey clouds and drizzly rain. The sun shouldn’t be shining when you listen to this album; it’s more the kind of long-player you’d put on to cheer yourself up on a shit day than something you’d turn to to enhance an already good one. Certain sections of songs like Hanging In, When I Know More, and Not Wanted would fit black skies and window-pane patter without changing your mood, while the far more upbeat and uplifting opening quartet Impossible, In Light, Someone Else’s Problem, and Make It Easier are pretty effective serotonin boosters.
Overall, The More I Sleep The Less I Dream has something for everyone, as long as they like listening to indie rock and shoegaze while it’s pissing down outside. Maybe not everyone, then. Just the ones with good taste.
LTK RATING: 8/10
Pre-order The More I Sleep The Less I Dream (out September 14) on iTunes.
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