Ahead of the release of Twin Atlantic's second album, Free, the Glasgow quartet were being talked up within the British music business as “the next Biffy Clyro.” With that album selling over 60,000 copies in the UK, earning the band a BPI silver disc, the stakes have been raised accordingly: now the industry demands nothing less than that Sam McTrusty's band become “the new Foo Fighters.” No pressure then lads...
It’s entirely appropriate then that the first words Sam McTrusty sings on Great Divide are “Lately I’ve been wondering what the Hell is going on?” A gentle meditation upon the power of music to inspire and empower, the piano-led The Ones That I Love (Intro) may be an atypical introduction for an album being held up as a barometer for the UK rock scene, but its charming, low-key nature speaks volumes about Twin Atlantic’s own grounded attitude to the hype enveloping them.
Much of that hyperbole is rooted in the explosive nature of Great Divide’s first single, premiered back in March. Heart And Soul is a smart, slick modern rock song with a monster stadium-friendly chorus which sits somewhere between Whitesnake’s Here I Go Again and that Def Leppard knock-off One Direction song. It’s no fluke either: Great Divide boasts at least three further killer singles-in-waiting in I Am An Animal, Fall Into The Party and Actions That Echo, brilliantly propulsive, instantly addictive, crunching rock songs which would sound fantastic on US radio…if US radio still gave a fuck about giving airplay to rock bands.
But Great Divide is more than just a set of fine singles. It’s a wonderfully well-rounded, intelligently-paced collection, an album in the truest sense of the word. Hold On is the kind of stirring, passionate anthem that Biffy Clyro have perfected post-Puzzle, Brothers And Sisters builds step-by-step into a widescreen arena epic, Cell Mate is an unexpected outburst of rage and frustration, lashing out a world out of one’s control. Given the position in which Twin Atlantic now find themselves – a vehicle now for the hopes and dreams of others, not all of them entirely altruistic – it’s entirely understandable. The album’s sweetest moment then, is Be A Kid, which further expands upon the ideas expressed in The Ones That I Love, with McTrusty travelling back to days and nights spent listening to The Beatles on his grandparents’ stereo, entering into “another world, another place, where magic exists”, and hoping against hope that that purity and innocence can be retained even as momentum surges behind his band.
The expectations placed upon Great Divide are absurd and unfair. There’s a hell of a distance yet for the young Glasgow quartet to travel before they can rightly be bracketed alongside rock acts whose names appear in the boldest type atop UK festival bills. But that’s not to say that Twin Atlantic haven’t haven’t got the skills, the smarts and – crucially – the songs for such a journey. For in Great Divide, they have the best British rock album of 2014, hands down. The road ahead offers boundless possibility.