Review : The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know
PitchforkHere's an incomplete recap of the Twilight Sad's self-reported listening syllabus leading up to their third album, No One Can Ever Know: Cabaret Voltaire, Magazine, Autechre, Public Image Ltd., Nine Inch Nails. In other words, a group that has to this point been either compared to shoegazers or other Scottish acts (Aereogramme, Mogwai) was looking to completely overhaul its sound. That's a good thing-- while their debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters was the work of a powerful and fully realized band, its follow-up Forget the Night Ahead suggested it wasn't a particularly versatile one. Whether it was a result of familiarity or just its suffocated production, the torrential downpour of Andy MacFarlane's guitars and James Graham's heavily accented howl didn't have the same impact.
Now here's a nearly complete list of who No One Can Ever Know actually sounds like: The Twilight Sad. That's also a good thing. No One Can Ever Know is kind of a failure as a total sonic rebranding, but it's a strong transition for the band into something a little more form-fitting while carrying over their commitment to morose atmosphere and Graham's handsome vocals, deeply entrenched characteristics that just so happen to be their strengths....full text
Spin"The kids are on fire in the bedroom," James Graham sings in the opening minutes of the Twilight Sad's 2007 debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, a collection of accordion-streaked noise-rock anthems as gut-wrenching as it is compelling. "There's people downstairs," the thickly accented lead moper begins on the Scottish trio's 2009 Forget the Night Ahead, which ups the racket-making ante without quite keeping the lighter-ready choruses. In the early moments of No One Can Ever Know, which marks a shift toward brittle, Factory-ready post-punk, he howls, "Safe to say, never wanted you more / And then you ask for one more go." This time he's deadly serious.
Where the Twilight Sad's latest could easily have gotten more deeply mired in the same boggy Moors as its predecessor, No One Can Ever Known instead heralds an ambitiously minimal change in approach. "Anti-produced" by celebrated U.K. remixer-producer Andrew Weatherall, the metallic din condenses the Twilight Sad's once-ragged expanses to a claustrophobic space of vintage drum machines, synths, and twisted shards of guitar. It's colder, and even harder to parse in all its suggestive details, but also, as that early refrain indicates, more frankly adult.
Just as fittingly, the murderous imagery from the band's albums and merch*, which once seemed like the stuff of childhood nightmares, now brings to mind something far more chilling. A domestic disturbance, perhaps? A death in the family? The Twilight Sad won't tell: "What more do you need to know? / You're staying here well down below," Graham howls at the album's close, his meaning, like the album title's subject, equal parts evocative, creepy, and ultimately unfathomable. Do not piss these dudes off.
No One Can Ever Know is out February 7 on Fat Cat. Listen to the whole thing exclusively here while digging a shallow grave (hope your computer headphones have a long cord)....full text
ContactmusicWith almost a decade's worth of uneasy listening behind them, only the most nonchalantly optimistic soul would augur a drastic change in The Twilight Sad's psyche. Shrouded in mystique with a brooding intensity money can't buy, James Graham and long time cohorts Andy MacFarlane and Mark Devine have always delivered where many pretenders to the throne of miserablist pop failed dramatically. A simple trawl through the band's extensive back catalogue reveals an outfit unafraid of revealing their innermost thoughts, often drowned in a sea of feedback, distortion and ear shredding white noise. In the flesh the results have a tendency to be even more dynamic, Graham's imposing figure quite apt for a band whose earliest lyrical asides involved kids on fire in the bedroom and a rabbit that must die.
As opening statements go, they don't come much better than 2007's debut long player 'Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters', a record that not only introduced The Twilight Sad's dark and twisted narratives to the world, but created a hefty weight of expectation for what followed in its wake. Unsurprisingly, 2009's,'Forget The Night Ahead' suffered from being built up beyond its means when in hindsight, it represented a band on the cusp of change; a change mustered on 'No One Can Ever Know'; and therefore succinctly bridged the gap between past and present.
Previously characterised by a relentless wall of sound that sits somewhere between My Bloody Valentine's thirty minutes long 'You Made Me Realise' live "holocaust" and the industrial clamour of Nine Inch Nails in 'Downward Spiral' mode, 'No One Can Ever Know' heralds a marked departure from the sonic maelstroms of yore. In a recent interview James Graham admitted he'd been listening to the likes of Portishead, Cabaret Voltaire and PiL and there's no mistaking the influence of all three on this record. The addition of Andrew Weatherall - the man responsible for introducing Primal Scream to dance music some twenty-odd years ago - on production duties cannot be underestimated either. Indeed it was his idea to experiment with vintage analogue synths rather than bathe the songs in customary guitar induced noise that helped augment a sound harking back to Martin Hannett's now legendary production style on 'Unknown Pleasures'....full text
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