By their own admission, Twin Atlantic‘s fifth album finds the Scottish rockers with their backs to the wall, having come to the end of a 10-year stint with Red Bull Records. They parted ways with the label when they found themselves on “completely different pages“, and the Glaswegians decided to go it alone, building their own studio in a bid to create a sound entirely removed from commercial pressures.
The results are immediately clear on ‘Power’, which sees Twin ditching their well-established brand of serviceable stadium rock in favour of bombastic 1980s synth-pop.
Take opener ‘Oh! Euphoria!’, for instance, on which frontman Sam McTrusty and co dial down the guitars and ramp up the synths. It’s the boldest and most exciting move they’ve employed in years – even if it leaves them owing a certain debt to pomp-rockers Muse.
Less successful, however, is the bizarre ‘Mount Bungo’, a Tinnitus-inducing 40-second dirge that could easily scare off the less hardy of casual listeners.
Still, there are plenty of moments that show reinvention isn’t an entirely wasted endeavour. McTrusty has previously spoken of how Synesthesia influenced the record, and it’s only too clear in some of the record’s later highlights. ‘I Feel It Too’, for instance is a completely serviceable slice of fizzing power-pop that evokes memories of a bustling arcade, while ‘Volcano’ provides a refreshing sense of palpable darkness – and the briefest of forays back into their well-traded stadium rock.
Lyrically, it’s also a mixed bag. On Barcelona, McTrusty croons: ‘How many hearts have never beaten? How many lovers lost in the sun? I may be lost, but I believe in living for love.’ It’s an admirable message, perhaps, but one that’s delivered with all the verve and authenticity of a Tinder date at a business park Nando’s.
The effort in attempting to redefine their sound and head back to the ’80s is clear, but it’s sorely undermined by a lack of originality and ideas. Still, there’s the undeniable feeling that better days lie ahead if their synth-pop doesn’t entirely isolate their core fan base. Here’s hoping.