by Brooke Ketron
While North American pop-rock bands are drowning in unoriginality, an underground quartet from Glasgow, Scotland is breathing life to the genre. After rising to popularity in the United Kingdom, Twin Atlantic released their first full-length album, Free, produced by Gil Norton (Jimmy Eat World, Bayside, Foo Fighters) on May 2, 2011.
The opening track, “Edit Me,” proves that Twin Atlantic’s sound is closely related to the pop-rock bands of the United States. Taking cues from Jimmy Eat World and The Starting Line, the stadium quality of the song highlights the moral of freeing yourself from the limitations of society.
Leaving the audience wanting more
Momentum picks up with the second track, “Time For You to Stand Up.” Vocalist Sam McTrusty describes the need for personal independence through his thick Scottish accent with lyrics like “You say you want distance from me/Well don’t stand so close.” Tracks three and four, “Apocalyptic Renegade” and “Yes, I Was Drunk,” follow in these footsteps – speaking of freeing yourself from the past and conquering new journeys, but both lack a strong hook that a faithful pop-rock fan is waiting for.
The albums picks itself up
Twin Atlantic remedies any disappointment with the aptly named title song, “Free.” Boasting a larger than life sound, “Free” emphasizes the individual struggle for peace and independence. Finally, McTrusty delivers an unforgettable hook, “I set my body on fire so I could be free” between climactic guitar riffs. This energetic and hopeful single is precisely what the pop-rock genre needs. With the addition of vocal distortion and ironic use of whispering and screaming, summer anthems like “Make A Beast Of Myself” and “The Ghost of Eddie” create an uncommon identity for Twin Atlantic that bands like All Time Low could never pull off.
The band shows their versatility with a slowed acoustic track titled “Crash Land.” With the charming vocals of McTrusty, and soothing sounds of the lullaby-like guitar and violin melodies, “Crash Land” complements the stirring sound of the first half of the album and builds anticipation for the remaining songs, which include an entirely soft-wave musical titled “Serious Underground Dance Waves.”
Free wraps up with the justly named “We Want Better, Man,” a tale about demanding more from the government. Sonically, it goes from a distant McTrusty screaming, as if enticing a crowd, with hectic guitars, to an up close and quiet personal message sung right into your ear. You can almost envision a stirred up crowd silencing right before they revolt.
Twin Atlantic is not shy about their disapproval of the government and invites fans to take notice with the July release of the politically charged Free B-Side, “Sparkly Touch.” McTrusty criticizes the power of the government with the lines, “I’m raging, such hypocrisy/Confuse them, until they can’t agree/Disgusting how you manipulate the masses.” McTrusty’s innovative writing keeps his unique syllable repetition in time with drummer Craig Kneale’s snare hits on the drum rolls, techniques most American bands have not tried. With the inventive song writing apparent in “Sparkly Touch,” it is a shame it is not included on the original release.
Despite a few hit or miss tracks, Free is a liberating addition to the pop-rock scene in North America. Twin Atlantic is currently touring the United States, with their last show scheduled for Wed, Nov. 23 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, Pa. For more information and free downloads, check out Twin Atlantic at www.facebook.com/twinatlantic.