Twilight Sad – Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave
Fourth album strikes perfect balance between epic sound and insular beauty
More than a decade spent cranking out slabs of scorching misery would leave most bands jaded, but the Twilight Sad sound more invigorated than ever. Recent releases have seen what might be considered typical moves towards ‘maturing’, by paring back their wall of sound towards brooding industrial rock (not to mention their rather grandiose Royal Scottish National Orchestra gig) but these experiments have coalesced well with their heavier tendencies to make this fourth album their best to date.
This is their most pristine-sounding album; the background littered with a wealth of details and a foreground which positively shimmers with rich sounds. The murk and menace is still there (songs with titles like 'Drown So I Can Watch' aren't exactly chirpy) but it sounds sweeter than ever. The macabre imagery has been toned down and James Graham’s lyrics bare more vulnerability without sacrificing his knack for amusingly wry little turns of phrase – the chorus of 'I Could Give You All That You Don't Want' and the bellowed refrain of "I've been put to bed" (‘Leave the House’) are standout moments. Graham's howls have been softened to a croon for much of the record and it works very well, now sounding more mournful than angry. The whole tone is more majestic – Andy McFarlane's guitars wallow gracefully among the shadows rather than brewing a torrent of darkness and the electronic flourishes build subtle drips of expertly controlled atmosphere.
By far their most cohesive album to date, it flows effortlessly between sounding epic, without being overbearing, and moments of real insular beauty – the stark piano based 'Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep' is a suitably poignant closer illustrating how far the band have come since their bruising debut. This might sound quite different from those beginnings, but it is still unmistakably the Twilight Sad and there is still nobody else who sounds quite like them.
The Twilight Sad play The Pleasance Sessions, Edinburgh, 9 Oct and O2 ABC, Glasgow, Fri 19 Dec.