October 2, 2009
Album review: The Twilight Sad - 'Forget The Night Ahead'
Scottish soundscapers delve further Scottish soundscapers delve further into the romantic post-rock shadows
Two years after their lauded debut, The Twilight Sad are attempting once more to inject real emotion and excitement into that sometimes clinical post-rock genre. So while they might seem to share U2’s fondness for heart-tugging, epic choruses, thankfully that’s where the comparisons to the grande dames of arena rock end.
Indeed they’ve sacrificed some of the warmth of ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’ for a much darker ambience, with big melodies and vast romantic landscapes. Opener ‘Reflection Of The Television’ swaggers in on a wave of My Bloody Valentine-style glide guitar and pounding, insistent drums, as James Graham’s thick Scottish burr veers from fearful (“There’s people downstairs”) to threatening (“I’m more than a fighter, you know”). ‘I Became A Prostitute’, meanwhile, for all its imagery of money, blood and exploitation, is their most accessible moment so far, treading the line between melody and noise with skill and creating a well-layered sense of angst. Balancing the fiery post-rock cacophonies are passages of introspective tenderness. ‘The Room’ grows from gentle beginnings, built on the pulse of a bass drum and piano, while the lyrics document a disintegrating relationship ambiguously, laying denial on thickly as the noise rises ominously. ‘Made To Disappear’ positively drips with emotional depth, propelling cathartic, distorted guitar shredding against Graham’s impassioned hollering. His accent is so thick it’s hard to actually catch what the man is saying some of the time but, rest assured, it’s suitably deep and poetic.
‘Forget The Night Ahead’ walks a fine line between drippy sentimentality and rough-edged realism. It’s the vividness of the lyrical themes and rich, poetic words that ultimately carries the record over, but unfortunately so much attention is paid to crafting the perfect setting for Graham’s brooding lyrics that they all too often become lost, a nuisance among an overly eager wall of sound. Which is a real shame because when they are audible – “There’s a girl in the crowd, and she’s bawling her eyes out/The only girl in the town with her fingers in eyelids” (‘I Became A Prostitute’) – they take a standard album to a different level.
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