Album Review: Twin Atlantic – GLA

gla

Snot: where is it?

You haven’t misread that by the way; at Live4ever we’ve sat wondering on many occasions in the last few years just where all the vim, the pout, the primal lip curl of rock n’ roll has got to, conversations which have invariably included words like ‘sanitised’, ‘meek’ or ‘boring’.

This is, after all, the kind of music which should be predestined to possess a certain shit-losing sense of cool but not cool: the problem is that people playing it now by and large seem to be more afraid of being stars than ever, day sheet conditioned and more likely to have an early night than an early grave.

Twin Atlantic are not so. They’re re-born, full of viscosity, unofficial demi-lords of snark – as GLA sets out to prove. Written from a ground zero the Glaswegian quartet collectively experienced after 2014’s Great Divide, their process this time round was no process, a back-to-basics, balls to the wall freak out that has injected huge doses of rock’s fluids most bodily back into their sound.

Doing it for yourself implies risks, but it means you can get away with calling your own songs things like Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator and scream all over them, the non secateurs spilling over slashing, straight arm chopped chords like arrows; blistering, the opener here even ends like it was tourniqueted by its own jump-up.

Keen for inquiring minds to know, the band have revealed that the album’s etymology has its derivation from their home town, a chaotic root full of tough love and hard knocks. It would be equally appropriate as a slight abbreviation of glam, such is the swing of numbers like the lovelorn No Sleep and Valhalla, both songs that acknowledge but reject the machismo of the guys n’ guitars aesthetic but keep the thrill count needle near the red.

This is new ground, but for anyone needing an anchor Twin Atlantic’s singer – the splendidly named Sam McTrusty – still cranks through the gears in a delightful Weegie-croon, most grainily on the arena bound emo-light of Whispers, but equally his burr is present throughout, two dirty fingers up to a game where trans-Atlantic affectation has become a tedious norm.

If maintaining an identity is a worthy motivation, there are equally moments on GLA when the words could be in Martian, but the music’s sheer heft could make academics shake. On Ex El the peaks and troughs are spectacular, the chorus a jarring hum, McTrusty’s voice strung out to a despairing, neurotic screech. Dancing less on the precipice, Missing Link raps and prances, a mini-punk-pop gem that threatens perfection against a backdrop of confusion and multiple choice questions with no answer.

It’s one thing, of course, to feel in a creative straitjacket but another to risk hordes of pissed off disciples by doing something about it. Rejecting the concentricity of their own form is a brave move and it’s not therefore a shock to see the band have the courage to fail – the comparative bonhomie of The Chaser sounds like it was rescued from some mid-90’s student disco, whilst by the time closer Mothertongue comes around much of the energy has receded.

Any criticisms though need to be placed in perspective. GLA takes Twin Atlantic’s past and treats it with all the disrespect any outfit which wants to progress needs to demonstrate: this is not so much a transfusion but open heart surgery, all with the spectre of Britain’s most judgemental Alma Mater hanging over them. In the process they’ve rediscovered their snot, the brashness and contrarian Id which makes us all slaves to little rage and big lust.

It’s time for these Raintown sons to soak you.

(Andy Peterson)

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