Twin Atlantic have struggled for years under the critical burden of not being Biffy Clyro. Although this is a bit harsh, their position suits me fine as I find Biffy increasingly opaque and unfathomable.
On 9th September, GLA, Twin Atlantic’s fourth studio album was released, and I have to admit the pre-release singles and teasers filled me with foreboding. Heard through the filter of my preconceptions and bias they just didn’t sound like Twin Atlantic chords, never mind songs. The band say the album is an attempt to capture the spirit of Glasgow (hence the title; the call sign of Glasgow Airport) and it catches the schizophrenic dirty side of the Glasgow character; like calling you ‘mate’ while stealing your phone.
Track one – ‘Gold Elephant / Cherry Alligator’ – opens with an old Twin trick; it sounds like an appealing party in the next room. Then, when you open the door you get Sam McTrusty in a psychotic clashing schizophrenic rant with McKenna, McNea and Kneale egging him on to thunderous effect. The door closes abruptly and ‘No Sleep’ riffs in. This is a banger of a tune, massive drops and soaring vocals. ‘You are the Devil’ is good but a bit Twin-by-numbers and would have suited Great Divide better.
This is a hugely enjoyable album; there are echoes throughout of childhood references, the chords used in ‘The Chaser’ took me straight back to the early eighties. McTrusty gives a brutal vocal performance on ‘Ex El’ and I challenge anyone not from Glasgow to catch a great many of the song’s lyrics. This was the standout track for me, throbbing, spitting venom and sending chills down my spine.
It’s all just a wee bit off centre; the keys are wrong, the chords aren’t Twin Atlantic chords and the singing is too Glaswegian and it is glorious, a wonderful kick back at the commercial interests that produced The Great Divide.
This is the album Twin Atlantic grew up as a band on, incorporating and mining their influences unashamedly. The 12 tracks on GLA capture the energy of a Friday night in Glasgow, fizzing with possibilities, slightly disappointing in places but always in your face and true to itself. It’s the angriest I’ve heard them since Vivarium and I love it.
I’ll be the old guy in the front row of the Barrowland in December belting out ‘The Chaser’, see you there.