Release Date: Oct 28, 2014
Record label: Fat Cat
Much as I love this new album from The Twilight Sad, there are times that putting on Nobody Wants to be Here & Nobody Wants to Leave would be inappropriate: while having a romantic meal with a loved one, perhaps; while doing the housework; during sex or when standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. Play the record as background music, when taking it easy and you’re going to be left with a difficult, impenetrable slog. No one could ever accuse the band of shying away from accessibility – their debut, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, is one of the finest indie pop records of the millennium – but few concessions are made to the listener here.
?The Twilight Sad release their fourth album as a band who have firmly established themselves as a staple for any self-respecting follower of miserable music. As such, there are dreary expectations to meet and dismal standards to abide by. Thankfully, on Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, the Kilsyth gloom-merchants are at their maudlin, woeful, and dreadful best.
Dark and edgy as a rule, The Twilight Sad have nonetheless tread their way across a significant amount of stylistic territory in the course of three albums. The transition from debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters through Forget The Night Ahead to No One Can Ever Know might’ve been a bit jostling. Gloom clung like fog to the band’s music, but in tweaking the knobs for noise, volume and distortion, The Twilight Sad skittered in different sonic directions from album to album.
For a band that extols being miserable as a virtue, The Twilight Sad doesn’t do such a good job when the music matches their downtrodden reputation. It doesn’t mean that their last foray into penetrating synth rock was in any means a failure, but the lukewarm reception of their last record No One Can Ever Know - and the antipathy vocalist James Graham feels for it - proves that it didn’t raise their profile as much as they would’ve hoped. It almost broke the band apart to an extent, which is understandable considering their Scottish friends Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks have gone on to fill numerous decent-sized theaters.
There’s a girl, again. Beneath the punishing noise levels, repeating motifs often give the Twilight Sad’s songs their shape. Witness “There’s a Girl in the Corner”, the insistent, roiling opener on Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. People talk about difficult second albums, or third album syndrome, but no-one pins any particular stigma to the fourth album. Maybe this is because by that time the artist in question is expected to be established or expected to have given up. Whatever the theory, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is the fourth studio album by the Scottish band The Twilight Sad.
The Twilight Sad have the Midas touch. Only instead of everything they touch turning to gold, everything they touch turns its back on the world, darkens, wilts and burns with a hollow and tormented anguish. They, nor their music, are not what you might call upbeat. But breakdown the component parts and there’s no immediate reason why the sum of those parts should harbour such a powerful, mournful tension as it does.
The mastery on display here is that the mix comes out as sublime as it does. Even as James Graham sings, once again, about loss and loneliness, it's expertly paired with a hypnotic or compelling mix. A sommelier of emotions, if you will..
Ah, The Twilight Sad! Memory lane, winter-surrounded warmth of emotional pasts. Tones and hues, nothing absolute or stark. Light, grey sadness for all. There was a winter in high school when I listened to Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters as if it were the only album ever written. Scenes in the ….
Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave, as a statement, heavily implies a sense of entrapment; burrowing deep resentment and anger underneath the surface because the idea of walking away seems scary or difficult. It’s a feeling that The Twilight Sad, especially in the wake of the disappointing No One Can Ever Know, seem all too aware of. Lead singer James Graham has admitted in the run-up to this record’s release that it took a long time to get the ball rolling on writing the band’s fourth album – to the point where questions were being asked about whether or not to carry on.
Mainstream success has mostly eluded the Twilight Sad, which is somewhat disappointing and even more surprising—their compatriots We Were Promised Jetpacks and Frightened Rabbitstill fill rooms in the States despite being only slightly more “pop,” proof that a certain kind of Scottish miserablism will always play well overseas, especially when delivered with a whiskeyed brogue. Consequently, when you’re the most successful and long-running band with the word “sad” in its name, the obvious question is, at what point does such a staunch commitment to misery become, well, kinda miserable? In the case of the Twilight Sad, it takes about a decade, as everything from the title of Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave to its uncertain sonic direction tells of a band feeling trapped within their own reputation. Which is somewhat disappointing and even more surprising—Twilight Sad have always been savvy about anticipating diminishing returns.
The Twilight Sad have been plugging away for more than a decade, amassing a sizable catalog that's progressed from the sort of autumnal, patient anguish practiced by their Scottish contemporaries Frightened Rabbit, forth towards darker, drawn-out and noise-ratcheted shoegazey catharsis, and then to black-decked, electronic-smoked post-punk, all the while sidestepping trends and striking their own sort of gold. The two other Scottish indie-rock bands consistently mentioned in the same breath, We Were Promised Jetpacks and the aforementioned Frightened Rabbit, have both gone on to garner respectably large followings both in their homeland and in the U. S.
A year ago James Graham, flanked by core band mates Andy MacFarlane and Mark Devine, stood bathed in light under the medieval architraves of Paisley Abbey with an entire orchestra at his feet and his band's future in his hands. That crisp October night The Twilight Sad delivered a performance that caused a shift in their trajectory. Amidst the Gothic Revival beauty of the history-rich building and the tombs of kings, the three-piece delivered a show that rightfully saw them anointed chief royalty of this generation of Scots indie rock.
Scotland’s the Twilight Sad have amassed an impressive catalogue of indie rock at its most brooding. What makes their music unusual, and particularly compelling, is that they convey gloom, not with dirges and hushed minor ballads, but with inescapably loud and direct rock songs. Their 2007 debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, was an unstoppable collection of angsty, noisy guitar rock.
Over the years, the Twilight Sad have mastered many flavors of brooding and bittersweet, from their debut album Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters' folky atmospheres to No One Can Ever Know's hard-edged electronics. They've been around long enough to look back, and that's what they do on Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave. Inspired by their late-2013 and early-2014 live performances of Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters and with their songwriting honed by No One's stark experiments, the Twilight Sad transform everything that came before into some of their most compelling music.