The Twilight Sad
Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
It’s fitting that The Twilight Sad’s fourth album was recorded at Castle of Doom studios. Though they do not sound like Joy Division, The Twilight Sad exudes a similar sense of doom with their music. It’s not an overt, forced delivery. It is a sense of an unspoken tragedy lurking just beneath the surface that comes naturally with every note played, and every word sung. I don’t know what this says about me, but it speaks to me. I cannot recommend their music enough, nor do I have the talent or breadth of language to express the reasons why.
The Twilight Sad’s third album, No One Can Ever Know (my #16 pick from 2012 seen here), was awash in keyboards and experimentalism, which was a striking change from their spacious landmark debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters and the claustrophobic, yet cathartic noise fest of Forget the Night Ahead, while this new album seems to see them returning to the basic guitar, bass and drums set, but now nicely augmented by the keyboard touches. In a way, this album feels like a culmination of their entire career. It picks and chooses from their strengths shown with each release and in a way have created their most spacious, melodious, and accessible album yet.
The album opens with the down tempo, but ominously building “There’s a Girl in the Corner,” where singer James Alexander Graham sets a story of heartbreak that “you’re not coming back from this,” and is augmented beautifully by Mark Devine’s muscular drum work, Andy MacFarlane’s tasteful guitar textures and striking keyboards. On the next two tracks, the Sad up the speed and give us two sprawling nuanced and mesmerizing songs. The first single, “Last January,” glides along with a relentless mid-range bass line and high end guitar flourishes that recalls the darkest early moments of the amazing Kitchens of Distinction, while the more grinding and heavier “I Could Give You all That You Don’t Want,” summons up a big, painful sing-along chorus. Speaking of catchy, “Drown So I Can Watch,” is sinister and loud, but is an addictive listen.
The Twilight Sad capture the slow gloom of early Cure (Seventeen Seconds and Faith) on the slow burning melancholy of “It Was Never the Same,” while the title track revisits the expansiveness of their previous album with the uncomfortable drum machine thump, an atmospheric feedback buzz and church like organ. The album closes with a pair of haunting and slow songs that provide a sparseness that they have rarely displayed on record. It’s difficult to pull out particular songs to highlight. All of The Twilight Sad’s albums are best consumed from start to finish and this is no exception.
Maybe the inherent darkness in this band’s music has kept them from achieving the notoriety and commercial success they so deserve, but it is their commitment and consistency that has made them such an important band. I think their influence will one day be bigger than most of their contemporaries, so why not get in now, while we can go out and see them perform and enjoy the fruits of their labor now.
The Twilight Sad "Last January"