Like Biffy Clyro before them, Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic have had to be patient in their pursuit of mainstream success. Despite the Glaswegian four-piece attracting the attention of their peers at an early stage of their career – including support slots for Biffy, The Smashing Pumpkins and Blink 182 – their debut mini album, 2009’s Vivarium, and second effort, 2011‘s Free, did not see them gain any significant widespread recognition.
That finally changed with their third album, Great Divide, which was released in 2014 and charted at number six in the UK Album Chart. Such a jump – the record charted 21 places higher than its predecessor – was largely thanks to the success of lead singles Heart And Soul and Brothers And Sisters. This infectious pair ensured that Twin Atlantic were often featured on BBC Radio 1, while the quartet also secured regular festival slots.
Following on from Great Divide, Twin Atlantic are now back with their pivotal fourth album, GLA. For Biffy Clyro, their fourth album was the record that boosted their career to a new level, with Puzzle laying the groundwork for the commercial success that was to come with subsequent albums Only Revolutions and Opposites. Time will only tell whether GLA will be held in a similar light, but it is clear early on that Twin Atlantic are still taking risks.
The heartfelt, power-pop sing-a-longs of their previous record are much rarer this time around, with GLA probably the rockiest the band have ever sounded. It makes sense too, considering that Twin Atlantic have said it is inspired by their hometown of Glasgow, which they say is infamous for “rivalry and danger” and “passion and fear”. In fact, frontman Sam McTrusty went as far as saying “We have finally made the album we wanted to make”.
Such statements can often sound hollow and misplaced when compared against the actual record, but opener Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator gives an early indication that the PR surrounding GLA is not just empty words. It is a heavy brute of a track, complete with a rip-roaring guitar riff and an abrasive vocal performance from McTrusty, whose full-throated scream is a drastic departure from his comforting tone on Brothers And Sisters.
The intensity from the opener carries over to No Sleep, which is equally as rowdy on its full-throttle chorus after the verse bounces along in almost a carefree manner. “I get no sleep/ days on repeat/ I get no sleep, no sleep/ I get no sleep,” yells McTrusty, as the listener receives the full brunt of his pent up frustration. While this level of intensity is not sustained for the whole record, Twin Atlantic certainly don’t hold back on GLA.
Ex El sees the band revisit the stadium rock of Great Divide again on the meaty, chest-beating chorus, which is clearly primed for big festival sing-a-longs, with the gritty Valhalla providing a perfect companion – complete with a driving guitar solo. It really sounds like the band are enjoying themselves, something that is further emphasised by the rabble-rousing The Chaser, which contains one of the catchiest hooks on the record.
GLA is by no means perfect and there are a few tracks that don’t quite reach the heights of the album’s brightest moments, with Missing Link and closer Mothertongue both struggling to hold their own. Yet it is hard not to be impressed by Twin Atlantic’s conviction throughout as they show what they can do with the shackles off, especially on tracks like I Am Alive and Whispers. Great Divide may have been the album that brought them more attention, but GLA feels like the result of a band reveling in what they are doing.