The Twilight Sad Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave

[FatCat; 2014]

Styles: grand & tiny sadnesses, dat brogue tho
Others: Frightened Rabbit, Mogwai, We Were Promised Jetpacks

Ah, The Twilight Sad! Memory lane, winter-surrounded warmth of emotional pasts. Tones and hues, nothing absolute or stark. Light, grey sadness for all.

There was a winter in high school when I listened to Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters as if it were the only album ever written. Scenes in the backs of cars, arm in arm with a girlfriend, feeling nothing but ultimate present-nostalgia. Romantic dejection looms in that album’s songs the way it looms in the future of any high schoolers’ love. Something helpless and purely true in those nights and in those songs.

At the time, the Twilight series (first book, then film) was enormously popular, and any peeks snuck at the iPod, which I carried like an emblem, would lead to one of my favorite mistakes to correct: “Oh, you’re listening to the Twilight soundtrack?” “No,” I would answer, “it’s this really great band from Scotland!” The interest would usually die down then, and I would return to the howling stillness. I still love this really great band from Scotland.

Most criticism of the band has linked them genetically to the “stadium-sized” and “anthemic” rock of other, privacy-invading UK groups. I never heard anything like that in the band’s songs, though also-abundant references to insular-celtic shoegazers made perhaps slightly more sense. For me, The Twilight Sad’s music has always been an intensely personal experience, more in line and in spirit with fragile ambient or drone works. Of course, the handsome, perfect brogue of lead singer James Graham does tend toward the emotive, but he always registered as another layer of poignant instrumentation, not necessarily as an archetypal “Front Man.” No matter how high the melodies soar, something keeps The Twilight Sad as if in a snow globe.

If 2012’s No One Can Ever Know felt like a misstep down the blandly electronic paths so popular that year, Nobody Wants to Be Here And Nobody Wants to Leave completely rights the footing the band had on albums one and two. When Chvrches came along, bringing with it two members of “the Sad” (do you think that nickname will stick?), I feared the worst for the less-popular band’s fate. But fellow mopers! here we are with another installment.

The band sounds somehow more organic than ever, mostly due, I’d bet, to the contrast between this familiar sound and No One Can Ever Know’s often unsuccessfully cold textures. The live drums are very welcome, reverberating for miles behind the ghost-tones of “It Never Was The Same” and “Last January.” Electronic sounds (OK, synthesizers) do play important roles throughout the record; for example, “In Nowheres” is built around a droning bass tone, but also allows for layering ad infinitum upwards to Graham’s voice. The effect is a man standing atop a full, churning sea of detail.

If the album feels too familiar sometimes, it shouldn’t really throw you off much. I’d be comfortable listening to The Twilight Sad doing this exact sound forever. I want to tap into the sad energy of being young while I can. Without these guys, why even pretend to bother?

Links: The Twilight Sad - FatCat

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