Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Album Review - The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know

Released on Monday 6th February, 'No One Can Ever Know' is the third LP from The Twilight Sad, and builds on their already soaring status as Scotland's prominent export of alternative rock music.  Whilst their first two LP's were heavy, drenched in the 'Wall Of Noise', and essentially a good raucous ear bash, 'No One Can Ever Know' turns that particular dial down a notch to great effect.

The first taste we got of the album came in the form of free download 'Kill It In The Morning', which is the album closer.  The familiar embrace of lead singer James Graham's vocals were a welcome return coupled with the freshness of the song, a keyboard driven track which retains some of the post-rock scuzz and stirs in some 80's synths.

The album's lead single 'Sick' dropped on 14th November, and was a much stronger insight to the new direction which the Kilsyth band had veered in.  Once again Graham's vocals are as passionate as ever, haunting and achingly beautiful with the choral refrain of 'over the hill, over the hill we go'.  A simple repeating guitar riff is the glue which holds the track together, and again taking lead are the programmed synths, which lead to a more experimental sound, akin to Radiohead on Kid A and closer to home the post rock styling of Aerogramme.

These two tracks firmly whetted my appetite for more, and when the needle hit the grove and opening track 'Alphabeat' kick in with a healthy drum beat the stage was firmly set.  'Alphabeat' is a fine opener, the sound of a band getting ready to let loose, and it builds nicely throughout.

'Dead City' is one of my favourite tracks from the album, and also one of the best for examining the different sound 'No One Can Ever Know' has in comparison to earlier Sad work.  Listen to this song against any track from the first two albums, and it's clear the band have progressed from their post-rock influences which can hang around Glasgow like a smog, limiting any change or progression.  Replace Graham's vocals with those of the late Ian Curtis and this track would slot into a Joy Division set with ease.

Track three is single 'Sick', and following that is 'Don't Move', which combines a high hat and snare beat with distorted guitars giving pride place to the vocals, eerie, dark and hinting at trouble bubbling underneath.  It's not hard to return to the Joy Division comparison which song titles such as this, 'Kill It In The Morning', 'Don't Look At Me' and 'Dead City'.

'Nil' is a quieter affair, again showcasing not only Graham's gruff Scottish voice, but his exquisite story telling, recalling a tale of dangers , 'you've been there, seen her, lying in the ground'.  'Don't Look At Me' rather than being quiet and introverted throws itself about with a fast paced rhythm, soaring synths once again touching back to the new wave sound.  'Not Sleeping', along with 'Dead City', gives us the lyric that the album takes it's name from, 'no one ever knows where she has gone'.  Almost all of The Twilight Sad's songs have a common theme, stories of regret or hinting at terrible events.  Shrouded in mystery the listener indulges in a little pop psychology.  It's clear there's torment here, whether it's real or cleverly imagined I guess we'll never know.

A thumping end to 'Not Sleeping' leads to my favourite song on the LP, and the second single taken from it.  'Another Bed' is the most obvious '80's inspired track, instantly the new wave, synthpop sound of Depeche Mode, New Order and The Human League.  The drums in particular are something that Stephen Morris would be proud of.  However The Twilight Sad put their own twist on this sound, leaving the joy and happiness behind, injecting instead loneliness, depression and abject abandonment.

No one can deny that The Twilight Sad require a little effort.  They are not, and much to their credit, a band who tag along with the latest fad.  For established fans, this slight tweak on their sound gives a new facet of a rough piece of coal to examine.  For new listeners, well you've stumbled across their finest work to date.  Now go and listen to 'Forget The Night Ahead' and 'Fourteen Summers & Fifteen Winters' and really get to grips with the band.

Buy The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know from all good record shops and online retailers

Check out more of The Twilight Sad

Facebook     Twitter     Website

No comments:

Post a Comment