Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Review of The Twilight Sad’s No One Can Ever Know
Nic ShonfeldFrom the outset, The Twilight Sad weren’t shy about proudly pronouncing their influences. The publicity photos for their 2007 debut Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters may as well have featured the band staring intently at their footwear, so obviously indebted were the Glaswegians to the walls of guitar construction techniques laid down by their shoegazing forebears. But what set them apart was the songwriting blueprints they applied those lessons to, choosing to build giant monuments to miserablism from giant slabs of distortion, mortared together by James Graham’s thickly-accented bellow. Where they were coming from was familiar but what they did with it was unexpected, fresh and intense.
Their 2009 follow-up Forget The Night Ahead used the same tools but took their writing in more conventional directions with a greater emphasis on dynamics and feeling more traditionally pop, at least relatively speaking. It represented important artistic growth for a band whom one could have reasonably feared had but one impressive trick in their bag, but wasn’t likely to dramatically broaden their fanbase.
While their third album No One Can Ever Know may likewise not represent a broadening of who The Twilight Sad may appeal to, it’s definitely a wholesale retargeting. Guitars remain in the mix, but rather than the crucial load-bearing roles they’d played in the past, they’re now consigned to decoration and detail. Structural duties are now handled by cold, gleaming synths drawn from the electronic and industrial eras of the late ’70s and ’80s. Whereas their earlier works were studies in emotional catharsis, No One feels rather more sinister in its avoidance of feeling. This isn’t to say that Graham’s vocals are any less expressive, it’s just that the way they’re mated with driving rhythms and icy textures, they feel more like threat than release. It’s an unexpected turn from the Scots, but a rewarding one – and that’s coming from someone who loved their guitar-centric approach.
No One Can Ever Know is out next Tuesday, February 7, and is currently available to stream in whole at , while DIY has a track-by-track annotation of the album by James Graham and The List a short interview. They’re at Lee’s Palace on February 29.
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
MP3: The Twilight Sad – “Kill It In The Morning”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Another Bed”
Video: The Twilight Sad – “Sick”
Stream: The Twilight Sad / No One Can Ever Know
Mogwai have been rather snakebit as far as North American touring goes in the past few years, seemingly having to cancel as many shows/legs as they manage to play, but they’re looking to make up for it all with a Summer tour that includes a June 18 date at The Phoenix, tickets $29.50. And if you’re thinking of taking them for granted and catching them the next time around – as I have their last couple visits – note that the press release says, “it will likely be the last extensive touring we do for some time” so sit at home and watch reruns of How I Met Your Mother at your peril.
Spin reports that Spiritualized’s forthcoming Sweet Heart Sweet Light has been pushed back a couple weeks from its intended March 18 release date. While a new release date hasn’t been confirmed, it’ll almost certainly be before May because that’s when the band begins an enormous North American tour that hits Toronto early on, with a show at The Phoenix on May 5. Tickets for that are $27 in advance.
Stream: M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”
Acid House Kings have opted to give away a track from their 2002 EP Say Yes If You Love Me, just because.
Iceland’s Of Monsters & Men are celebrating the April 3 international release of their debut My Head Is An Animal with a North American tour that includes an April 12 date at The Mod Club, tickets $16 in advance.