Twin Atlantic's Fall To Stardom - By Volume

I'm afraid of heaven because I can't stand the height. I'm afraid of you because I can't be left behind. St. Vincent - Regret

Twin Atlantic’s Fall To Stardom

Is it still unacceptable to use the term “selling out”? Someone pass me a thesaurus.

Author: on July 3, 2014
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Do Twin Atlantic think they’re better now than they were five years ago? Mainstream rock’s current darlings posture like that’s the case, carrying themselves through a set at Glastonbury more like sixth-album veterans than nervous indie first-timers. I recall the band playing the eve of Sheffield’s Tramlines Festival in 2011 amid flailing limbs and pint glasses, where I was floored by the energy and energised by the twists of their set list. What I witnessed that evening was a band who knew they were on the cusp of big things playing every hook like it would be the deciding factor in that potential future.

As we all know, though, the deciding factor is usually a lot more arbitrary than that. Somebody somewhere saw in the echoing piano intro of “Free” a penchant for anthem-writing that they couldn’t possibly let go to waste, and so now we have “Heart and Soul”, an amped-up One Direction soundtrack-to-summer special that is hollow and forgettable. “Open up your heart and your soul,” Sam McTrusty sings. “Something something never grow old,” he shouts. “If you’re looking for something to love, you’ve gotta let me know.” It would be hard to suggest Twin Atlantic were ever lyrical masterminds. It would be harder still to suggest this song isn’t offensively trite.

The chasm between “Heart and Soul” and debut LP Vivarium is stark and all-encompassing; the mix has lost its bite, the rhythm section has fallen into Imagine Dragons-style indie-pop laziness, the guitars sound like an X Factor Rock Week job, and McTrusty’s vocals no longer wind themselves around music phrases – they’re fortune cookie yelps of just something anything. But it’s the line – Great Divide, if you will – between “Heart and Soul” and “Free” that underlines the regression more. While the second album that “Free” lent its title to was more straightforward and stadium-supposing, it was still entirely plausible to lose yourself in the passionately-delivered hook. Here – and on the Glastonbury footage from the weekend – it is painfully obvious that the track is nothing but nice noise. The crowd’s eyes glaze over as they sing along, and you can almost imagine them getting bored mid-line. “Open up your heaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrt, oh, whatever.”

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. This is the band I swooned over with my brother with overwhelming excitement at the way they changed direction mid-song without losing any of the momentum they’d been building. This is the band whose record I called “Scotland’s 2009 victory lap,” it was so self-assured. They were “perfectly capable of climaxing with class and passion” back then. And now? “Open up your heart and your soul. Take my love and never grow old.” You’ve got to be kidding. We can blame all the usual failures for driving bands to this sort of bland desperation; we can blame the execs that told them this was a good idea. But we should also blame artists that put their name to something this garbage. It almost doesn’t matter if the rest of Great Divide is a tour-de-force of innovation; this will cheapen it.

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