When you have a book with “Jetpack” in the title, the appropriate band is We Were Promised Jetpacks, no? I’ve heard a lot of good things these guys. But all I knew for certain was that they were Scottish.
I listened to their debut EP, The Last Place You’ll Look, which I liked a little. But I didn’t care for the sound of the EP itself, it was rather flat. A few listens got me enjoying the melodies and such but it never grabbed me. Especially when I compared it to “Quiet Little Voices,” the lead single from their debut full length, These Four Walls.
The vocals are a bit stronger, the guitars and bass are both more clear. The overall feeling is just brighter. Now this may be a sign of selling out (is that something bands still do?), but really I think it’s just a better production for this song. Which has a big chorus (and good backing vocals).
I listened to a few more tracks from These Four Walls and they are all good too. I guess start with the albums and save the EP until after you’ve absorbed the band.
[READ: July 5, 2013] You’re All Just Jealous of My Jetpack
Gauld makes comics like no one else I know. Most of his people are silhouetted or are the most rudimentary designs–simple triangle-shaped clothes, circle heads with dots for eyes and little else–maybe a nose if it’s profile. (Okay, there’s a bit of Chris Ware, but more like a much more relaxed Chris Ware). And the wonderful thing is just how much he can convey with these painstakingly simple drawings.
The content of his comics is usually quite clever and often literary. While I admit there were some I didn’t get (Like the Eric Gill cartoon–shame on me?–Aha: “[Gill’s] personal diaries describe his sexual activity in great detail including the fact that he sexually abused his own children, had an incestuous relationship with his sister and performed sexual acts on his dog.” Geez, now the comic is very funny.). There were some in which I liked the set up but would have preferred something funnier (like the Tom Waits comic–shame on him?)
But overall this collection was really enjoyable. And I laughed a lot.
There were several strips with a “title” and a wonderful punchline (there’s nothing worse than a promising title and a lame “joke” (I won’t mention the artist who I am routinely disappointed by in this regard).
But comics like “Controls for Rhett Butler: The Videogame” and “Why Have You Time-Travelled Back to Vienna in 1913” (example: “Dinosaur Hunting (time machine went wrong)” were very good. And of course the title comic is very very funny.
Gauld also makes a lot of very funny literary jokes (I love a comic that assumes you know things). “Samuel Beckett’s Adventures of Tintin” is great. And “Henry David Thoreau and Friends” presupposes you know a bit about HDT (but is likely funny even if you don’t). I also enjoyed things like “Mister Victorian Novel” in which a book walking down the street is dismayed to see Mister Victorian Painting walking down the street. As they pass and offer pleasantries, the painting thinks “pretentious windbag” and the book thinks “vulgar simpleton.”
Some of the less literary (and more general cultural”) include “2016: The ‘Age Appropriate Music Act’ comes into force” (which is really good). And “Feminist Fairy Godmother” or “Various Scenes Involving Pudding” assume varying degrees of knowledge. I really got a kick out of “A Penguin’s Views on Modern Architecture.” And I also really enjoyed Jesus consoling God who is reading The God Delusion.
But there are numerous comics that have color coding keys which are kind of funny but ultimately seem to fall flat. Like “A Tourist’s Guide to Our Islands” or the untitled strip where people are reading books on a beach and the key tells you what the coloring coding means (elaborate interpersonal struggles) are more work for the reader than actually funny (as there is no real punchline).
But those are few. And overall this collection has been a highlight of the summer.
The one nagging feeling was that I am fairly certain I’ve seen his work before but I ‘m nt sure where. He’s published in the Guardian, but I don’t read that. I wonder if I’ve just had people forward his strips to me. Regardless I’d like to see more of it. He also had a book called Goliath, which is a retelling of the David and Goliath tale. I will certainly be checking that out.