Twin Atlantic are a band with a wide range of styles in their music, as having been showcased in their first three albums. In GLA, their fourth, they depart from the wistful, earnest rock of The Great Divide (their previous and highly enjoyable third album) in favour of a more no-holds-barred approach to rock leading to a grittier and more intense sound. The band are Glaswegians and very proud of that fact, yet this is the first album that they have written at home and the band see it as very much influenced and shaped by the city – the album title GLA is the airport code for Glasgow Airport. With a mix of classic rock (Muse and Biffy Clyro comparisons are very common) and hip-hop influences (a style of music enjoyed by the band’s two main writers singer Sam McTrusty and bassist Ross McNae), Twin Atlantic have been bold and nailed their colours to the mast on this album with mixed results.
The first song on the album Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator starts promising with a heart pounding, fast-paced riff yet is let down by the lyrics, whilst McTrsuty gives a full-on performance, the song just fails to add anything or add to the overall feel of the album. Meanwhile, No Sleep was the first single from the album, and is a catchy, chorus-driven song with precise riffs holding the song together, yet whilst thoroughly listenable and a good song it lacks uniqueness.
The next track, You Are The Devil, is the least interesting song on the album, musically indistinguishable from every other rock song, and lyrically unimpressive, it fails to improve what has been a very average start to an album. However, The middle section is really where the album starts to take an upturn starting with the stadium-ready Ex El, containing a fast-paced Kings Of Leon style guitar part and plenty of focus given to McTrusty’s voice which is far more in its element in this song than in some of the earlier ones, not that this stops him pushing his vocal chords to the limit in the second half of the song. Valhalla is a slightly darker but no less good song, underpinned by interesting guitar riffs and a precise baseline which continues throughout. Though the lyrics are slightly strange it remains a good and enjoyable song. Whispers showcases a bit more of Twin Atlantic’s range, a slightly softer song and more lyrically driven (bassist Ross McNae’s musings on death) which McTrusty gives the appropriate sensitivity to in his vocals. The verses build into a rather understated yet effective chorus but the song could do with being slightly shorter as the final instrumental feels overlong and anti-climatic.
A Scar To Hide is a departure from the rest of the album, a ballad which would not have been out of place on The Great Divide and is possibly the best song on this release. McTrusty’s gives a suitably sensitive and emotional vocal performance for its mellow lyrics, backed by a very sparse yet very element musical accompaniment predominantly an acoustic guitar and also strings backing which adds an extra element to the song.
However after such a strong middle the album tails off again at the end. Missing Link and Mothertongue are thoroughly unremarkable and highly forgettable. The Chaser, the penultimate song is stronger, an upbeat, danceable and enjoyable record, though its introductory and main riff sounds very similar to a number of other songs rather than being distinctive on its own merits, yet gets away with it with a chorus ready made for live performance with the crowd singing it back to them.
GLA may be being judged slightly harshly in this review merely due to the strength of The Great Divide which was a varied and hugely impressive album, with some fantastic individual songs. In GLA the band have gone for a different sound and some of it has worked Ex El and Valhalla are different and point to something new and exciting but the strongest track is still the softer A Scar To Hide and suggests the band’s may not still be sure of their strong suit. There are also too many waste of space songs such as You Are The Devil and Missing Link to make this any better than just a good album, but it is undoubtedly a bold album and explores interesting future avenues for the band.