Album Review: Twin Atlantic – POWER

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I agree with Guardian’s review of POWER: you don’t often hear easily sing-along, ready-made stadium anthem tracks in mainstream pop too much nowadays, apart from the rockers; Scottish indie rockers Twin Atlantic this time produce an album full of songs which get you up on your feet.

After parting with their label and setting off again on their own, the band is feeling confident, and, as the title POWER suggests, full of strength. The resulting fifth album presents us with an enthusiastic, athletic sound, a fusion of strident rock and shiny 80’s synth and the lead singer Sam McTrusty’s soaring vocal lines, aiming to set you off and fill you with excitement. At the same time, constant excitement can sometimes feel like a monotonous drag. Over-enthusiasm to fill the album with ideas and energy can give the result a bombastic, pompous feeling, despite the band’s obvious effort in diversifying their sound.

POWER presents us with an enthusiastic, athletic sound, a fusion of strident rock and shiny 80’s synths

The opening track, ‘Oh! Euphoria!’  could give one a pretty clear idea of what to expect, both in terms of the music and the lyrics. The strong beating drums and McTrusty’s falsetto makes the song an anthem of marching and ascending upwards. It also reminds me of the glory days of 80s epic synth-pop giants, such as Simple Minds. ‘Barcelona’ and ‘Novocaine’, two more ear worm rockers, have some nice gritty guitar licks and even stronger drum notes from the latter.

The first instrumental interlude ‘Mount Bungo’ is a dive into pure scratching noise, which, although not counting much on its own, provides us with a break from the bright and shiny rock anthem. By this point, the intro of ‘I Feel It Too’ starts to remind me of 80s U2; not that Twin Atlantic’s sound is alike early U2’s crystal-like clear soundscape, but there’s a similar feeling of buoyant passion.

‘Ultraviolet Truth’ is one of my favourite tracks of the album. The melody become stronger, and the cut enjoys a harsher, darker minor key. This is followed by “Asynchronus”, a delicate instrumental interlude that is truly lovely to hear. The last three songs, especially ‘Volcano’ and ‘Praise Me’, went further with this darker ambience; now elements of nu-metal can be feel alongside the more pop-oriented material of Depeche Mode.

While various styles can be discerned from this album, I still feel that an overall feeling of bright, neon, excessive energy prevails throughout, which sometimes tires the listener. The lyrics haven’t been much help either. Maybe it’s just me who can’t feel much for lines such as “A prisoner, I can’t reason with living in pain / I can’t sing about a golden elephant / Kiss in the rain, you were my reason to live / A millennial who threw off my art and threw out my rhythm / I’ve had enough”. Come on, bringing in Beatles and Clockwork Orange references doesn’t make the lyrics of ‘Barcelona’ any more poetic or meaningful.

Come on, bringing in Beatles and Clockwork Orange references doesn’t make the lyrics of ‘Barcelona’ any more poetic or meaningful.

In all, the album is no doubt enjoyable, the kind of album you’d love to play in cars or during large gatherings. Indeed, the band is trying ideas and showcasing their energy. But is there much more than this?  Do I want to play this in my room simply for the sake of appreciating its musicality? These questions are answered with much more hesitation.

Twin Atlantic’s fifth album, POWER, is out now. The band play Newcastle’s Riverside as part of their album tour on 9th March 2020. For more information, go to www.twinatlantic.com.

Image: Ashley Webb via Flickr and Creative Commons.

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