Twin Atlantic’s rise has prompted a flurry of questions. A deeply independent group who have set up residence in the charts, the band’s evolution often pulls them away from their roots. Eventually, something had to give. With the line up now shorn down to two central figures – Sam McTrusty and Ross McNae – the band are ready to break with the past, crafting a new album that is contradictory, ruthlessly honest, and actually a whole heap of fun. ‘Transparency’ might well irk the purists but, as Twin Atlantic would no doubt point out, that’s actually kinda the point.
Largely drafted by Sam McTrusty working in tandem with Jacknife Lee, ‘Transparency’ was completed remotely, the various cells within Twin Atlantic connected via digital means. Perhaps that freed up creative space – they’ve certainly filled it, moving from clipped punk-funk to strutting alt-pop via a few nods to the crunching rock that fuelled their early albums.
The band’s first full length in four years – it follows ‘GLA’ their second Top 10 – this new album is nothing if not ambitious. The searing ‘Young’ attempts to speak up for those being left behind during the Brexit process, demanding to know why a political decision voted for by older members of the electorate is being paid for by the younger generation. It’s also a deliriously colourful pop song, with more than a touch of 80s swagger to it.
More often, however, the anger is directed inwards. Opening track ‘Keep Your Head Up’ is about attempting to plough through this modern mess, while ‘Dirty’ finds Sam McTrusty wrestling with an exceptional personal sense of guilt. ‘Dance Like Your Mother’ urges towards freedom, all while speaking to the frustrations and expectations that come with a band entering their second decade together.
Closing with the coy ‘Instigator’, this is an album that condenses an array of hues, colours, styles, and shades into one place. It doesn’t always work – ‘Get Famous’ is a little clumsy, for example, while ‘Bang On The Gong’ doesn’t quite connect – but it’s certainly daring. An attempt to sidestep presumptions and carve out new space, ‘Transparency’ could be the most unexpected move of Twin Atlantic’s career.
Words: Robin Murray
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