The Twilight Sad

No One Can Ever Know

Written by: TL on 07/03/2012 12:19:53

Over the past couple of years, if there's one thing I've learned about music, it is that Scottish bands are almost invariably great. It started with We Were Promised Jetpacks, then Biffy Clyro, then Yashin, then Frightened Rabbit and The Twilight Sad, one by one I checked them out and had crushes on each of them. The Twilight Sad - who are NOT to be confused with American The Twilight Singers - gained power over me in particular, with the brilliant opening songs "Reflections Of The Television" and "I Became A Prostitute" from their 2009 album "Forget The Night Ahead". I got into that album slightly too late to justify posting a review of it, but to make up for it, I've been waiting patiently to write about the band's third album "No One Can Ever Know", and seeing as that record has been out for a month now, it's due time I tell you people about it.

If you are not familiar with the Kilsyth trio, it serves to explain that The Twilight Sad are a band that have made their trade playing some of the gloomiest, most melancholic indie-rock around, and that's saying a lot considering how prominent such moods generally are in the genre. Yet while it's hard to explain, this band's music sounds so thoroughly permeated by pent-up depression that you'd probably have to resort to some of the bleakest, blackest metal to give them a run for their money.

The expression is made up mainly of constantly weeping melodies, provided by heavily distorted guitar, bass and accordion, all courtesy of lone axeman Andy MacFarlane after the 2010 departure of former bassist Craig Orzel. The accordion gives the sound a folksy tint, while the layers of electronical distortion leans the whole thing over into noise, and on top of it all, singer James Graham - whom I like to think of as a Scottish hybrid of Morrissey and Matt Berninger (The National) - delivers a soulful barytone, telling stories full of regret, resignation and frustration.

On "No One Can Ever Know", drummer Mark Devine imbues the songs with noticeably faster beats compared to the uncompromisingly crawling gloom of predecessor "Forget The Night Ahead", yet while this and increased experiments with electronic effects sets the new album apart, the dense, immersive atmosphere of bleakness is still intact. And this is paramount for the overall quality of the record, because while almost every song offers its own share of recognisable moments, a combination of the album dwelling intensely on similar nuances of the same mood and Graham's heavily slurred Scottish accent can make it difficult for any listener to pick out individual hooks or shades of character to set the songs apart.

While I think a feel like that is a detriment - however slight - to pretty much any record, it somehow does not do much to turn off my appreciation for this one in particular. For while I have a hard time picking a few songs out to put in the "Download" section, marking them as 'the good songs' from the album, I also recognise that every time I turn my attention to the record, no matter what song is currently playing, I have to admit to myself "this sounds brilliant". It could be this makes "No One Can Ever Know" more of a dense, homogenous mood-record than one of all sorts of diverse hooks, but even if that is the case, it is still a remarkably consistent and rewarding one at that:


Download: Alphabet, Don't Move, Nil, Kill It In The Morning, Sick
For The Fans Of: We Were Promised Jetpacks, Frightened Rabbit, The National, The Smiths

Release Date 06.02.2012
Fat Cat Records

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