When Sam McTrusty’s accented vocals question “What the hell has been going on?” during intro The Ones That I Love, it’s fair to ask similar questions of Twin Atlantic.
They bloody disappeared! Okay, maybe not. But the three years since Free have been a long journey, one that sees the foursome on the brink of spectacular career highs and new directions, and it rests on this: Great Divide. And though the opening minutes have some poignant, piano-backed sentiments – “Music is my therapy”, and the youth of today losing their voice – it feels like it’s merely simmering.
Luckily, Heart and Soul is already treated like a classic in their live set and it brings the album to life. Punchy, poppier – that chorus is unbelievable. I Am An Animal is an album highlight, ferocious with a ridiculously great groove going on, it’s a definite winner.
Hold On carries on their penchant for the anthemic chorus, where Fall Into The Party ups the Glaswegian accent and sporadic rock twists that drew such a loyal local following from their formation. It’s a sheer joy.
Brothers and Sisters, thanks to regular pushing on Radio One, is the perfect drive time sing along. Stuck in traffic on the Edinburgh bypass, who’s going to judge you for overdoing the vocal powers required to declare “There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer”? No one. They’re probably doing the exact same. Or jealously wondering what on earth you could be listening to.
And while it feels more muted across the board – Oceans acoustic simmers to a light end, while Be A Kid feels like Heart and Soul with a nostalgic twist – it’s misleading, because there’s also Cell Mate. Bloody hell that intro’s heavy. It has their erratic guitar twangs, with that Twin swing all over it, catchy chorus in tow.
When they played T in the Park and relied heavily on Free and new material, it felt like a new chapter in the sense that they’re a new monster. There’s still some of those erratic elements that punctuated early smashes like Audience and Audio, but they’re blended more with a greater ambition. Sonically, this is pretty huge.
Great Divide is, above all, unexpected. It has flashes of the best notes of their past, but it also has the soaring brilliance of stadium rock, and some real radio hits in there. It’s – dare we use the shudder-worthy term – mature. It’s a bigger Twin, a more challenging Twin. And when it’s right, it’s pretty good fun.