Twin Atlantic

Free

Written by: TL on 05/05/2011 18:26:51

Anyone who regularly talks to me about music (and that's pretty much all I ever talk about) knows that at some point in any conversation, there's a good chance I'm going to start talking about a Scottish band. Starting with my discoveries of as different bands as Biffy Clyro, Yashin and We Were Promised Jetpacks, my exploration of Scotland's scene has lead me to consider the area a veritable hotbed for bands which, at least in my eyes, have a great deal to offer. Hence I have also naturally been keeping an eye on the rising stars in Glasgow's Twin Atlantic, starting when word of their fine mini-album "Vivarium" reached my ears.

Now, in my review of that record, I predicted that the young quartet would soon blow up, via the help of their fine singles and the promo-power of the British hype machine. Contrary to my prophecy however, NME and the likes have been too busy swooning over The Vaccines, and hence Twin Atlantic have been left to work on their debut full length "Free" in relative peace and quiet.

Judging from the sound of this album however, it's not for lack of their own ambition, that Twin Atlantic aren't already sounding from each and every radio near you, because it seems like the minimum requirement for a song to make it on this album is that it must have a huge, barnstorming chorus. The irresistible title track is the perfect example of this, with singer/guitarist Sam McTrusty sneering "I set my body on fire, so I could be FREEEEE!" and a massive wall of guitar chords coming in to empower the last word - but there are also other fine examples in the likes of "Time For You To Stand Up", "Apocalyptic Renegade" and "Make A Beast Of Myself", all of which feature positively soaring anthems - and moreover, the bridge of the former and the pre-chorus of the latter are also definitely moments to make note of.

Listening to these songs, it is slightly ironic to think back to the band's lament of America's dominating cultural influence, in "Vivarium"'s "You're Turning Into John Wayne", because while the band certainly has British contemporaries - sounding like a more direct Biffy Clyro or an angrier Snow Patrol - there are also striking similarities between them and American bands of the kind that have long sat on the fence between alternative and mainstream radio rotation - The likes of Far, Lifehouse ("Spin") and Jimmy Eat World ("Bleed American") coming to mind.

And while this is not a bad thing per se, "Free"' will likely gather a few critics, due to its sometimes rather obvious chorus orientation. Fortunately however, Twin Atlantic do provide variation from this impression, by throwing the listener at least a few curveballs. Most noteworthy of these is "Yes, I Was Drunk", in which McTrusty really lets his vocals flare, while backed by a slick verse-riff that sounds a lot like something you'd expect to hear from Mae. Other examples count the all-instrumental "Serious Underground Dance Vibes", and the two ballads "Crash Land" and "Wonder Sleeps Here". Personally, I think the two latter could generally have done with an even more subtle composition than is the case, and I doubt any of them are going to be remembered as highlights of the record, even if "Crash Land" is quite good, but they still earn their inclusion for simply providing some nice variation.

Comparing "Free" as an album to "Vivarium", I can't help but to notice, that some of the bubbly, defiant musicianship has been restrained in order to make the album what it is; namely a full blown, all guns blazing attempt at getting the band 'to the next level'. The sense of defiance and underground indignation however, is still flaming from every note sung by McTrusty, and between his sharp and charismatic vocal presence and the swelling compositions, what Twin Atlantic have created is still an album of considerable power, and with few weaknesses to speak of. I still consider them half a step behind the best of their Scottish peers (Biffy Clyro and The Xcerts), but that doesn't take much away from the notion that "Free" as a debut album, is an unquestionable manifestation of the sense of purpose and ambition, that seems to burn within its parent band.

8

Download: Free; Yes, I Was Drunk; Time For You To Stand Up; Make A Beast Of Myself; We Want Better, Man
For The Fans Of: Biffy Clyro, The Xcerts, Lifehouse, Jimmy Eat World, Far
Listen: myspace.com/twinatlantic

Release Date 02.05.2011
Red Bull Records

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