The More I Sleep the Less I Dream by We Were Promised Jetpacks
Allow me to take a tangent as I dive into #15, from the Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks. If you’re unable to cope with talk of someone taking their own life, consider this your cue to exit stage left.
On May 9, 2018, one of the best singer/songwriters ever to walk the earth committed suicide. Scott Hutchison, of Scotland’s Frightened Rabbit, acted out exactly what he had previously described himself as doing in his song “Floating in the Forth” and leapt to his death from the Forth Road Bridge.
Fully clothed, I'll float away
(I'll float away)
Down the Forth, into the sea
I'll steer myself
Through chopping waves
As manic gulls
Scream “it’s okay”
Take your life
Give it a shake
All your loose change
I think I’ll save suicide for another year
That was written in 2008. He was able to “save suicide for another year” for ten years before his depression finally got the best of him, to the detriment of himself and everyone who ever heard his words. Unlike all previous deaths of actors, performers, and musicians (expected, accidental, or self-inflicted), this one was the most difficult for me, personally, in that it was so unexpected. Scott was in the prime of his life, his band was doing fantastically well, he’d just released a new side-project album called Mastersystem with his brother Grant and brothers Justin and James Lockey from Editors and Minor Victories, respectively. From everything I’d heard over the last couple years, he’d been able to rise up out of his funk and was living happily with his partner in LA.
Even four months prior to his death, Scott spoke of the song as if those feelings were firmly in the past:
“Floating in the Forth” was a real tough one. It’s a real thing. It’s a real thought. It’s a thought that I’ve taken to a place that I’m far less comfortable with… I’ve gone 90 percent of the way through that song in real life. But at the same time it’s gratifying. It’s heartening to know that I’ve been through that, and I’ve stood there performing that song, alive and feeling good about it. It’s a tough one. My mum and dad were at the show in Glasgow. We can joke about it, but it must be really hard to hear your son sing about that.
What his death has taught me is two-fold:
- no matter how much you think you know a famous person, you really don’t know them all
- I have a lot to learn about depression and how it can overtake someone even when from all appearances that person is doing extremely well
Scott will be deeply missed. My heart aches just writing about him here, and now any time I put on a Frightened Rabbit album I find it impossible to let it play in the background. The music starts, and his voice and lyrics consume me until the album is done. These are not depressive feelings of my own; they are empathetic, “fuck it all” feelings for what Scott and everyone else with depression was going / is going through, and recognition of my ineptitude of being able to help them.
Perhaps this blog is my outlet for help, no matter how small and inconsequential it may be. I try to remain positive, I tout what it is that I like about these artists, and I believe it’s a good thing for them (both popular and hyper-local acts) as well as the readers. Together we get through each year, a community of people who enjoy music and the world that surrounds it.
Thank you, reader. I knew I wanted to talk about Scott’s death in the Top 31, but I wasn’t sure how to do so before now. The Mastersystem album, while interesting as an artifact, was unfortunately forgettable, and didn’t land with my favorites of the year. So I’m holding onto the tangential relationship between Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks as that connective tissue. Not only are both bands Scottish (and friends with each other), but the first time I saw WWPJ perform live was on September 16, 2009, when they were opening for Frightened Rabbit.
WWPJ that year were riding high on the power of their debut album, These Four Walls, which was #5 back in 2009, and is by all accounts a fantastic album. Since then, the band released two somewhat lackluster albums in 2011 and 2014, but then finally figured out the right formula between their 2009 greatness and what they’ve learned over the last decade, releasing The More I Sleep the Less I Dream.
The album sounds more mature, but is somehow, finally, the proper follow-up to their debut that I’ve been waiting on. It’s not as loud as the debut, and that‘s a good thing. It has a refined production that has been lacking since the beginning, something that no doubt comes with the band all hovering around the end of the their 20s. If you liked who they were then, there’s no doubt you’ll like who they are now. And if you’re unfamiliar, I suggest going all the way back to 2009 before diving into this album. Even if you start with this most recent release, you will not be disappointed either way.
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17. Hell-On by Neko Case
18. Superorganism by Superorganism
19. Living in Extraordinary Times by James
20. Thank You for Today by Death Cab for Cutie
21. Black Panther: The Album by Kendrick Lamar
22. Suspiria (Music for the Luca Guadagnino Film) by Thom Yorke
23. Merrie Land by The Good, the Bad & the Queen
24. Room 25 by Noname
25. WARM by Jeff Tweedy
26. God's Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
27. Vessel by Frankie Cosmos
28. For Ever by Jungle
29. Twerp Verse by Speedy Ortiz
30. Remain in Light by Angélique Kidjo
31. This One’s for the Dancer & This One’s for the Dancer’s Bouquet by Moonface