Release Date: Feb 7, 2012
Record label: Fat Cat Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
In popular music, it is looked down upon when music sounds, by definition, menacing. Anytime a well-respected artist makes a statement that leans toward themes that are fraught with cynicism or pessimism, they’re instantly regarded as transitional records. But they’re just mostly challenging and, in a way, very much at odds with conforming to a sound that’s pleasing.
Gordie Lachance is a character in Stephen King’s uninnocence-of-youth novella The Body. It’s the unspectacular and ambitious tale of a team of almost-teen boys, each from a troubled domestic background, that set out to find the corpse of a local child who decorated an unsuspecting train while out walking in the woods. What enthralls is the boys’ journey, which hosts lucid discussions concerning their predictions for the future and the precarious nature of their situation back home.
Moving away from the aggressively all-encompassing wall of sound that comprised their first two albums, Scottish rockers The Twilight Sad have trimmed the fat for their latest release, No One Can Ever Know. Taking a page from ’80s Krautrock and shoegaze, they’ve pared down their massive sound to focus more tightly on ghostly keyboard riffs and the vocals of their unmistakable lead singer, James Graham. While a comparison to Morrissey might be easy, it’s not without merit as the mini runs and flourishes dramatically land Graham’s lyrical style right on the corner of Sad Bastard Boulevard.
The Twilight SadNo One Can Ever Know[Fat Cat; 2012]By Daniel Griffiths; February 16, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetI’m one of those people that strongly dislikes stereotypes and feel pretty bad about myself if I support one, but I’m going to break my rule here and say, there’s something about the Scottish brogue that lends itself well to dark and gloomy music. Perhaps it’s because of the typical portrayal of Scotland by British news channels, or the pictures of winter mornings and evenings in darkness, either way, it fits. Far from being a negative characteristic, it’s this certain Scottishness that makes The Twilight Sad’s third album No One Can Ever Know sound so natural.
Here'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.
Review Summary: Channeling post-punk melancholy lends an even darker tint to The Twilight Sad's drawn-out sound. If 2009's Forget The Night Ahead dragged The Twilight Sad's afternoon soundscapes kicking and screaming into cutting, sinister darkness, then No One Can Ever Know goes three steps further down that pitch-black country lane and threatens to detach the band from humanity entirely. The Scottish outfit's 2012 offering shares many of its pre-decessor's charming qualities - it's drawn out, dramatic, and surprisingly infectious in a really disconcerting sort of way - but its undertones of Joy Division melancholy give it a new slant which one would struggle to call fresh simply because it's so damn downbeat.
It’s good to try new things. Right? We’re all onboard with that advice. Order the octopus. Go to the matinee at that Bollywood theater. Explore a new neighborhood on your bike. That sort of stuff. And, if you’re a band, try some new instruments in the studio. Usually these will be synths and ….
When people call the Twilight Sad's new album No One Can Ever Know "dark," that's a bit of an understatement. This thing is pitch black -- something akin to the feeling of waking up from a nightmare and wandering through your house trying to find the bathroom in the middle of the night. In previous albums, these Scottish rockers have always had a dark side to them, but have always countered it with enough fist-pumping choruses to attract fans of acts like Frightened Rabbit.
The Twilight Sad's sweeping, Wall of Sound style seemed to be as inherent to the band's music as James Graham's unmistakable, burr-heavy vocals. However, on No One Can Ever Know, they deliver a set of songs inspired by Liars, Cabaret Voltaire, Autechre, and Public Image Ltd -- all artists with a hard-edged sound almost the exact opposite of the band's previous territory. The band drafted Two Lone Swordsmen's Andrew Weatherall to help them pull off this change, and given how later TLS albums drifted toward rock and industrial leanings, he was the right man for the job.
One thing that’s great about Scottish shoegaze band The Twilight Sad is that its opening tracks kick ass: The drums of “Reflection of the Television”, off 2009’s Forget the Night Ahead, starts its slow dirge; the aching beauty of the acoustic/electric slide guitar sounds on “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” from the band’s 2007 debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, make you melt right away; and on its latest, No One Can Ever Know, lead track “Alphabet” sounds like a possessed monosynth booting up. No doubt, The Twilight Sad knows how to make an entrance. From the get-go, No One Can Ever Know feels distinctly different from the band’s last two records.
Dovetailing nicely with S.A.D. season, the third full-length release from Scotland's the Twilight Sad maintains the outfit's trademark gloom and singer James Graham's emotive brogue, but wisely swaps opaque guitars for moody synthesizers. Reenergizing the band after a lackluster sophomore effort, the move has led to an atmospheric, assured and largely compelling record.
For record three Twilight Sad decided to get out of their comfort zone. With Andrew Weatherall providing artistic guidance and the band taking inspiration from acts such as Autechre and Liars, ‘No One Can Ever Know’ sees the band exploring a more electronic, motorik sound.It’s one that suits them perfectly. The ‘wall of sound’ approach and booming drums which characterised their first two albums has been replaced by programmed beats and gloomy grooves - and the pace has been upped for this synth heavy sound.You may have already heard lead single and Radiohead-sounding ‘Sick’, as well as ‘Kill It In The Morning’, which both hint at the new direction they’ve moved into.
These songs are more than ostentatious angst; they’re doors onto shadowy, eerie scenes. Darren Loucaides 2012 If you only afford The Twilight Sad’s third full-length a quick glance – and I won’t deny that immersing yourself in the Scottish trio’s bleak world requires effort – you might perceive a kind of dark, twisted Editors. Popularised by Interpol, this strain of brooding indie-rock isn’t much in vogue these days; those seeking quick success have moved on, busy mining other quarries.
This review originally ran in AP 284. The Twilight Sad have a focused sound—brooding post-punk with desperate vocals and foggy, shoegazing-styled guitars—and do that sound very well. However, the Scottish rockers have tweaked the formula slightly (and successfully) on their third full-length, No One Can Ever Know. Pleading analog synths and crisp industrial beats drive “Another Bed”; the bleak “Dead City” has mangled-metal effects in the background for added harshness; the grayscale “Don’t Move” marches like a lost Joy Division tune, thanks to clipped beats and corrugated riffs.
If shoegaze was a wordless reaction to indie's verbose ways, The Twilight Sad's brand of 'emo-gaze' has been two fingers to the miserablism that's defined Scottish indie for years. Not that The Twilight Sad are anything other than depressing shits, but they frame their provincial fatigue in a kind of profuse majesty, pushing the band towards the realms of magical realism. No One Can Ever Know, however, marks a new direction for the Lanarkshire natives.