Disappointingly stale album from the Scots, but it could yet be their breakthrough.
Chris White 2011
In their short career to date, Glaswegian four-piece Twin Atlantic have already supported big-selling fellow Scots Biffy Clyro and American legends Smashing Pumpkins, suggesting they have won the respect of their peers as an act of genuine promise. Unfortunately, this largely disappointing album offers only fitful evidence that they have what it takes to emulate the success of their celebrated contacts.
Founded in 2007, Twin Atlantic’s debut (mini) album Vivarium, in particular the single and standout track You’re Turning Into John Wayne, seemed to herald the arrival of a new band proud of its Scottishness and scathing of the faux-Americanisms favoured by many of their contemporaries. Sometimes loud and dynamic but often subtle and textured, Vivarium was a confident collection that boded well for the future.
Regrettably, the band’s next step has been to turn up the volume, tone down singer Sam McTrusty’s proudly Caledonian twang and go all out to be the next Fall Out Boy. As a result, Twin Atlantic no longer stand out enough from the host of similar power-pop and emo acts that have flooded the airwaves in recent years, and Free is depressingly characterised by unimaginative, one-paced hollers like The Ghost of Eddie and Time For You to Stand Up.
Frequently blighted by the kind of over-earnest, ham-fisted lyrical hand-wringing all too common in this genre, the album’s title-track provides a serious contender for the most banal couplet of the year – "I fell in love with rock and roll / Until I discovered it was false." Don’t retire yet Zimmerman, we still need you. Only Crash Land, with its elegant cello, slows the pace sufficiently to show what might have been, giving McTrusty the space to rediscover the more thoughtful, distinctive vocal style displayed on Vivarium.
There’s a fair chance Free will bring some kind of breakthrough for Twin Atlantic, as the market for their brand of unsophisticated, confrontational angst-rock remains a fruitful ground. Whether they have what it takes to stride forward from the middle of the pack and establish their own identity is another matter.