Brooding, stormy and bittersweet — the first few bars of "It's Thunder and It's Lightening" sum up, in a series of melancholy chords, exactly what We Were Promised Jetpacks are all about. The Scottish four-piece deals in ardent post-punk, blurring the instrumental aggression of label-mates Frightened Rabbit and the Twilight Sad with the sort of soul-baring poetics that could make Bright Eyes blush.
In any other band, that blend might seem impossible; so much vulnerability and violence simply couldn't fit into 16 tracks. But for Jetpacks, at least, the marriage of wide-eyed, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and powerhouse instrumentation seems like a natural matter of course. Adam Thompson's yearning brogue alternately soars and grovels over subjects typically left to emo bands, murmuring about curfews and damning failed relationships in nearly the same breath. Meanwhile, drummer Darren Lackie pounds out a series of concussive tattoos and skittering cymbal taps as waves of echoing, ominous guitar sluice together in the foreground.
Jetpacks 'tempos are as varied as heartbreak itself, and both elegies and anthems find good homes on this debut. But the band's strongest moments are not the gently strummed hues of "Conductor" or the mumbled medieval narratives of "An Almighty Thud." Rather, it's when Jetpacks pair their saddest, sorriest pathos with their strongest post-punk blows — as on the voice-cracking "Roll Up Your Sleeves," or the ascendant "Keeping Warm" — that These Four Walls really starts to lift off.