18 September 2016

Twin Atlantic - GLA

A name I have heard, but not one I have knowingly listened to before now.  Twin Atlantic formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 2007 and before this record have released three previous studio albums and have shared the stage with the likes of Blink-182, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Fall of Troy and many others.  On each release, they have gone to play bigger venues and seem to be reaching new heights each time.  As I said at the very beginning of this, I cannot remember listening to this band before this review and this is not because of any great hatred; how can you make an opinion on something before you have heard it?  Well, that is part of the reason I decided to review this one, I want to make an opinion on this band.  This album was produced with Jackknife Lee who used to play in a band called Compulsion and has produced the likes of R.E.M., Weezer. A.F.I., Bloc Party as well as pop acts such as One Direction and Taylor Swift.  So how is the album going to sound and more importantly, will I like it?

01 – Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator

A strong opening which has a good riff that loops around you, lyrically a little weak to be honest and cryptic; however, when have all rock song meant to make sense?  It reminds me a little of Queens of the Stone Age, especially ’Feel Good Hit for The Summer’.  It is good opening, gets the blood pumping and interest is (as they would say) perked.

02 – No Sleep

it a little more of a hymn to being young, dumb, full of chemicals/booze/pills and wrecked with self-confidence issues and paranoia.  You can tell this is a Jackknife production job, the loud sound could be spotted from out of space.  It is a larger than life riff, the bass line on this one is fantastic and it is a really good tune.  This song seems to be one that is rebelling against that monotonous lifestyle where days merge into one, it can be a lonely existence and this song sort of attempts to capture that feeling; but the riff is just too loud and the message gets a little lost in the noise.

03 – You Are the Devil

A doomed relationship, losing oneself and trying to escape from the car crash that is the monument of that particular union seems to be the full behind this song.  It is another song that aims to be loud and another anthem for the masses, but does everyone need to be that?  It is a bit indie disco for my tastes and the cynic in me is not won over, but it is well performed and much better than bands such as Kasabian and all those clones.

04 – Overthinking

For once an anthemic song that works!  It has a glam-rock undertone to the guitar riff that reminds me of the indie-rock version of ‘Genie in A Bottle’ mash up with The Strokes ‘Hard to Explain’, but it has its own identity that makes it one of the stand out tracks of the album.  It is a song about self-doubt, self-criticism, self-destruction and needing to step out of oneself every now and then to make sense; much easier said than done, but a fantastic number that hits all the right spots.

05 – Ex El

A tale of despair, failed relationships, being cut off from the world and being unable to change in the face of everything.  The build is better than the chorus here, it builds and then it just sorts of loses momentum a bit.  Also, another song about trying to numb the pain and pills are mentioned once again, which makes you worry about the person in the song.  It is a dark one, but it is not a good one to be honest.

06 – Valhalla

This is one of those numbers that will sound great in a crowd, it has a large riff and it sounds as if it should be spectacular.  But looking underneath it, I am not finding much beneath the surface and it is a little hollow; a bit like the religious sentiment it is trying to mock.  As one of the lines in the songs say, this isn’t working for me and it is as deep as an Oasis song.

07 – I Am Alive

Another indie disco/anthemic attempt on this one which is falling short of the mark for me.  It has all these sections that sound as if they should be sung by a huge crowd and these other parts where the music is much louder than everything else around you.  But it is another number which is not hitting those spots that it is aiming for, there is not enough passion for me here to invest in it and whilst I can appreciate the effort of the band and the way the song has been constructed, it is making me feel a little cold.

08 – Whispers

This song is all about death and what the struggle of the human to leave behind the world and it gets slightly philosophical, it is a slow and steady number much in the same vein as “Many of Horror” by Biffy Clyro.  It is a strange beast, in one hand it is very deep and it has message (or query) about the grey veil and then the music is slightly throwaway to be honest and not something that I would rush to hear; then again, it is something I would mind being on in the background.

09 – A Scar to Hide

A slow guitar strum introduces this song and we are back into the anthemic, slow burning number that is a signature of any Jackknife production job. This song about asking a lover to leave as the person feels they are dragging them down by their very existence, with a layer of strings and minimal input from the drums and bass to be honest.  Again, much like ‘Whispers’, it reminds me of the recent output of Biffy Clyro and to be honest, it is about as inspiring as the recent Biffy Clyro as well and that was not a high water mark to be honest.

10 – Missing Link

I think this is the song that formed my opinion of the album.  A standard indie rock number that talks about not being able to quit stuff (pills, women, who knows) and it follows that basic formula as used by bands like Kasabian and others.  It is average, very average and not something that really inspires me to be honest.

11 – The Chaser

Back with another glam-rock stealing/QOTSA/Kasabian hybrid and it is a song about not being able to get your shit together, another number that makes all the right moves and sounds like it is aiming to be anthemic once again.  However, I can get behind this one as it has a good hook and makes a lot of good noise, but it is not something that leave a lasting impression on you after it is finished.

12 – Mothertounge

It is a hard rock ending, a song about taking a lover for granted and then finding out that you have made a mistake.  At least it sounds like it is going to be a hard rock song, but it is just loud guitars and no drums and if there is a bass in there, it is buried deeper that Jason Newstead on the Metallica album ‘… & Justice for All’.  Back come the strings, the loud noise and it is sort of falls short of its goal which is sort of a fitting ending.

This should be a little better and it should be my type of thing, but there are two things working against it for me.  One – Not everything on an album needs to be an anthem, it needs lulls and peaks which draw the listeners in and this album does not know how to make the distinction between when a track should be gentle and when it should be reaching a euphoric moment.  Two – Other bands are doing this type of music and they are also doing it with more confidence.  Bear with me here, the band sound competent and for the most part the songs are decent rock number that will keep their fans happy.  But when each song has a self-depreciative tone or is about getting high, you have an act (of lyric writer) who needs a little help on some level.  A problem shared is a problem halves, I understand that; but it does not instil confidence and it make you worry about them to a certain degree and hope that they will seek professional help.  It is not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, there are some good moments on here and with a few tweaks it could have been good album.  However, when you have a top level producer, you would expect a little more to be honest.  I think I will need to check out more of their work at some point.  It might be for the fans, but not for me to be honest.

6 out of ten – Now I see where you were going, but it is not quite there

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