When you press play, it knocks politely with somewhat muted tones, before it breaks down the door. After those first few seconds, Twin Atlantic’s latest album, GLA, makes an explosive first impression with its opening track, Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator.
It’s their fifth release since a debut EP in 2008 (A Guidance From Colour), “mini-album” Vivarium, and two acclaimed full-lengthers, Free and Great Divide. They quickly built up a great reputation and within their first four years, had played supporting shows for Smashing Pumpkins, Blink-182, Say Anything, Taking Back Sunday, The Gaslight Anthem and My Chemical Romance. Now, they decided to bring us 2016’s release, another full-length album called GLA.
The first single off the record, No Sleep, features a heavily distorted, insomniac singalong chorus, interspersed with funky, bassy guitar riffs, and infectiously catchy verses. Musically, it’s big, yet intimate – balanced between celebrating and contemplating: I was never absolutely sure whether the song is complaining about not sleeping, or embracing it.
And while that one was somewhat ambiguous, angry/bitter songs like You Are The Devil don’t need much interpretation, right? There’s also a fair amount of anxious frustration on the album in Ex El, for example, which focuses on a promise to change, and a desire for a different future.
My biggest disappointment in the album is a degree of monotony – especially on the first half of the disc. Although every track is different, and dwells on different feelings, there are a lot of tonal similarities between songs. In a certain sense, it helps make GLA feel like a complete whole, independent entity, but there’s also a sense of everything melting into one. It gets broken up somewhat with standout tracks like Whispers, Missing Link, Mothertongue, and the acoustic sad-ballad A Scar To Hide, but those tracks feel very much like an advertisement break to specifically distract you from the 7-track streak that preceded it.
Maybe the only flaw I’m actually noticing is the almost-antiquated album format. If these songs were packaged and judged as individual tracks, they would have scored high by any measure. And for a successful modern band like Twin Atlantic, maybe this is the definite sign that it’s time to focus on singles rather than CDs. It’s not like anyone listens to albums straight-through and in-order anymore, is it?
If you love fuzzy, distorted, bass-rooted guitar riffs, driving, punching beats, and an exciting, lively brand of alternative rock, GLA is probably the album for you. Through it, Twin Atlantic proves that they’re not close to dying out or drying up. They certainly know their own brand of music, and they excel in it.
PS. Urbandictionary.com has several definitions of what GLA might stand for. Though my favourite is Good Looking Ass, official word has it that in this case, GLA is the abbreviation for Glasgow. Or maybe it refers to the one of the playable factions from real-time strategy game Command & Conquer: Generals.
Twin Atlantic is an alternative rock band from Scotland. Their latest album, GLA, is out today.