The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All the Time
Glasgow's premier purveyors of sweeping drama return with a sparkling fifth album
The last time The Twilight Sad released a record, there was a sense of now-or-never about it. Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave broiled with urgency and tension. James Graham alternately growled and yelped his way through its ten tracks, and you got the sense he was a man with his back to the wall, who knew time was running out to make his masterpiece. Nobody Wants to Be Here was exactly that; moody, magnificent, and above all, honest.
The question is, once you've made your magnum opus, what next? The Twilight Sad spent much of the Nobody Wants to Be Here era on the road, around the world, with The Cure, as if to ratchet up the stakes somehow – once their heroes, Robert Smith and co are now their contemporaries. Graham found time to collaborate with Kathryn Joseph on the Out Lines album, too.
If it feels as if It Won/t Be Like This All the Time has been a long time coming, that's surely down in part to the fact that the band began trailing it as long ago as June. Far from settling themselves back in quietly, first single I/m Not Here [missing face] is almost violent in its intent; Andy MacFarlane's reverb-laden guitar howls out over thumping percussion, and immediately it's clear that complacency was never on the agenda.
There's clear progression in the Sad sound, with the record tipping its hat to krautrock here and there. Behind the pointed belligerence of the guitar, there's quiet, undulating beds of synth, from the soft menace of VTr to the tentative optimism of Videograms. This is a Sad album in a major key for once; opener [10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs] is panoramic, while Let/s Get Lost simmers in uptempo fashion. Graham is as heart-on-sleeve as ever, meanwhile; 'put me in the ground' is the mantra on Girl Chewing Gum, and on the subtly reflective Sunday Day13, he anxiously asks 'would you throw me out into the cold?', and his brogue has never sounded richer.
There are still moments of classic Sad drama – the chaos of the guitars on Auge/Maschine is a case in point – and this is still the band we fell in love with over a decade ago: confessional, honest, enthralling. It's just that this time out they're sleeker and sharper than before. The Twilight Sad won't be like this all the time. If they were, though, that wouldn't be a problem.
Listen to: Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting, Auge/Maschine, Videograms