Twin Atlantic won’t set the world on fire with their originality, and it’s unlikely that their intention is to do so. Still, the Glasgow, Scotland-based quartet’s new album, Free, lacks much of what makes this brand of emo-rock great for some and tolerable for others: namely, catchy hooks and memorable melodies. Frontman Sam McTrusty trudges through 13 tracks with a nasally, heavily accented voice that will be difficult for a lot of listeners to follow; more importantly, he also has a tendency to strain a little too hard for the melody and ultimately fall short (“Time For You To Stand Up,” “Apocalyptic Renegade”). The music beside the vocals mostly meanders, failing to establish a recognizable hook (“Yes, I Was Drunk,” “Dreamember”) and when assessing music of this ilk, isn’t the hook far and away the most important component? Moments of shoehorned-in heaviness (“The Ghost Of Eddie”) ultimately feel unnecessary, as does an instrumental track (“Serious Underground Dance Vibes”) from a band who have a difficult time forging a memorable composition in the first place.
Oddly enough, Twin Atlantic seem to be at their best at their most minimal; there’s shades of potential in the band’s softer, more heartfelt material (“Crash Land,” “Wonder Sleeps Here”), even if it reinforces the larger problem of a lack of focus throughout the album. It’s a shame that there’s so little of note on Free, because Gil Norton’s production is fantastic as usual. But bless his heart, it’s ultimately a wasted effort.
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