As Brothers And Sisters blared on the radio three times a day during the summer, I struggled not to be cynical with regards to Twin Atlantic. It seemed unlikely to me that lyrical turns such as “There’s nothing wrong with being a dreamer,” sung in the thickest Scottish accent since The View played the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, were an accident. If I’m correct, it’s deeply worrying that this promising band seems to aspire to sound-tracking Ross Murdoch’s win in the breast-stroke, in lieu of building on the excellence of their debut. Still, Brothers And Sisters is a half-decent song, so putting doubts aside I approached The Great Divide.
Unfortunately, the album’s opening impression is a poor one. The One I Love is rather dodgy, saturated with vague pseudo-philosophical comments underpinned by a generic, slow, piano-led instrumentation. As Sam McTrusty waxes about the youth of today with all the subtlety and originality of a Sixth Form poet, one can’t help but feel slightly queasy at the notion of there being another ten tracks to go. Fortunately, it does get better, despite the fact that Be A Kid and Why Won’t We Change, which appear later in the album, are poor for similar reasons.
Having trudged through the opening track, second song, Heart And Soul, is an emphatic blueprint of Twin Atlantic at their best. The methodical pound of the drum and the swagger of guitar exudes confidence, giving way to an awesome chorus that deserves to dominate the band’s live shows for the foreseeable future. The poetry is also better than on the previous track.
I flicked the switch on the generator,
So I could turn you on,
You better get to know your operator,
Before you pick that tone.
Whilst these lyrics stinks of testosterone, they tread the thin line between sexy and sleazy effectively.
The Great Divide therefore, is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde work; a narrative of success and failure. The tracks which lean towards the Heart And Soul mould are, without exception, the best. Fall Into The Party and I Am An Animal are notable for their pleasing synthesis of Blink–182 and Biffy Clyro which is extremely listenable. Conversely, the attempts at slower, more reflective numbers are mostly unsatisfactory, with only Oceans proving to be a well-worked foray into this mode.
In conclusion, if the band is at a crossroads, unsure of which sound to pursue, The Great Divide provides an objective answer. Let’s hope that when album number three comes round, they’ll learn from the peaks and troughs of this sophomore effort. More head banging, less philosophy.