In an era of where jolly synth pop seemingly rules, it is refreshing to occasionally hear some loud, squealing, introspective guitar music for a change, especially when it is so expertly delivered by the likes of The Twilight Sad.
The Scottish band’s debut 2007 Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters was a critical success and led to support slots with among others Snow Patrol, Smashing Pumpkins and Mogwai. For their second album Forget the Night Ahead they’ve upped the ante. The My Bloody Valentine-esque wall of sound created by guitarist Andy MacFarlane is larger and singer James Graham’s vocals are even more passionate.
What is perhaps most striking is the vocals by Graham, whose thick Scottish accent is clear across the album. This gives The Twilight Sad a real point of difference and is perhaps clearly shown across second track ‘I Became A Prostitute’, which was the first single off the album.
The album really gets into its stride with third track ‘Seven Years of Letters’, which is being released as the second single this month (Oct). It is among the more restrained tracks and works well, allowing the melody to really shine through the wall of sound.
Like much of the album the lyrics on ‘Seven Years of Letters’ are deliberately cryptic, hinting at regret, guilt and arguments, but never telling the full story. Its central lyric of, “we’re on a hiding to nowhere,” is a case in point. It could relate to a range of situations, without ever spelling out the reason for Graham’s despair. While this ambiguity can be frustrating on other albums it somehow fits with the power and scale of Forget the Night Ahead.
On the less restrained side is another stand out track, ‘That Birthday Present’. There’s no let up as it presents a relentless barrage of squealing guitars backed with pounding drums and bass, all delivered at breakneck pace, barely giving the listener a chance to grab breath. It’s remarkable stuff.
Not all the album is about creating a brooding guitar-scaped wall of sound. The pace slows down markedly in places, such as on the largely vocals and piano track, ‘Floorboards under the bed.’ But with this dip in speed, there is also a dip in passion and this track is among the less effective. Overall though Forget The Night Ahead is a breathtaking listen that successfully takes The Twilight Sad’s late 1980s influenced music to another level.
by Joe Lepper