There was a point during the recording of ‘Vivarium’ where Twin Atlantic feared all was lost. Somewhere in the mixing process the band lost the clarity and power of the songs on their mini-album and, for a few days at least, they feared the entire session was doomed, that all gains made with early EPs was lost and that the Scottish quartet were probably going to be dropped for the mistakes made. To their relief the record was saved, and as promotion work began someone innocently asked the band how they wanted to be represented visually during the forthcoming press campaign. Answering that question led to some decisions, photo shoots and videos that still make certain members of the four-piece wince to this day.
However, without the fraught moments and earnest errors made before, during and after the creation of ‘Vivarium’ (a record the band remain fiercely proud of despite its associated traumas) Twin Atlantic could never have arrived at ‘Free’, their ambitious and truly spectacular debut album. The album’s 13 songs veer from moments that showcase the melodic and ambient side of the band (‘Wonder Sleeps Here’) to statuesque slabs that nod towards the work of Aereogramme and The Dismemberment Plan (‘Serious Underground Dance Vibes’) all while demonstrating a deep love and fine talent for creating big-verse into 10-times-bigger-chorus rock songs that pound serotonin round your frontal lobe (pretty much everything else).
Anthemic, broad and proud, the songs have the sort of compact power and density that only come when crystallised under unique pressures.
Despite their differences all the tracks on ‘Free’ share a common bond and collective intensity that binds them tightly. Working with producer Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies) has given Twin Atlantic’s first full-length a classic feel and the sense that every song that made it this far through the journey has a genuine importance and sense of place. Lessons learned in the last two years have turned a great band into a potentially awe-inspiring unit that has no tolerance for mediocrity or averageness. With album number one the four gentlemen in the band have shown that their definition of musical success equates to far more than just four decent singles and some filler thrown in to make things look respectable.
‘Free’ is the sound of a band losing the chains, shrugging off disappointment and writing songs that the hairs on the back of their necks adore. To hear a band with such obvious and deep passion playing unencumbered and liberated rock music is an utterly captivating experience that Rock Sound would thoroughly recommend. Holding nothing back sounds exactly like this, everyone else please take note.