Saturday, 25 February 2012

REVIEW: The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know

The Twilight Sad have, for me, always been a band whose sound well matches their monicker. Downbeat, introspective, and with layers of peculiar beauty, it's not hard to imagine aimless wanders along the Clyde at dusk, searching for something all too intangible.

On new album 'No One Can Ever Know', however, the Scottish group tread new ground. Or at least add some fresh earth to keep their sound fertile.

Fixed to their past material by that distinctive sombre vocal of James Graham, the band explore more than the contemplative indie rock of past releases (of which 'Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters' is heartily recommended). They branch into a number of 80's post-punk/new wave influences, from the distinctly Joy Division pulse running through the atmospheric 'Kill It In The Morning', to warmer Depeche-isms on ' Another Bed ', which seethes in the quietest possible manner to great effect.

Where 'No One Can Ever Know' excels is in weaving a disconcertingly positive feeling into songs that should otherwise remain unrelentingly dour. To further the obvious homeland allusions, the effect is not dissimilar from a shaft of sunlight breaking all too brieflt through the heavily clouded Highland skies. 

Take 'Don't Look At Me', which seems to relay the tougher moments of a torrid affair yet, in passages, burns brightly with optimistic synths and the touching cry of "I still want you!" Placed alongside other potentially redemptive songs such as 'Dead City', the contrast with darker moments like 'Not Sleeping' and 'Alphabet' leaves a lasting impression.

Not that The Twilight Sad don't still specialize in sound tracking those bleak, wet and foggy late winter nights, when the world seems so much smaller. They do, with room to spare. But they add space to the songs in just the right places, allowing the listener a moment to hope and dream before plunging back into the darkness. Therein lies the morose brilliance of this album and the skilled manipulators of emotion behind its creation.

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