The My Bloody Valentine-esque guitars may have been discarded on this their third abum but Scottish band The Twilight Sad have lost none of their intensity.
On their previous album Forget The Night Ahead (see our Top 10 Albums of 2009 list) singer James Graham’s stunning and heavily Scottish accented vocals soared out of a wall of squealing guitars. This time around with Andrew Weatherall as producer and a bunch of vntage synths from Ben Hillier the sound is more controlled. Now Graham’s voice is complimented by deep, burring 1980s synths, reminiscent of Depeche Mode at their most sombre or early New Order.
Opener Alphabet and end track Kill It In The Morning, which the band selected to release late last year as an early preview of the album, are a definite statement of intent regarding the use of keyboards. It tells their fans, ‘we’ve changed the instruments, but we are still the same band you love deep down.’
With guitar taking backseat the bass also comes to the fore, giving the band a new krautrock sound. It’s this driving bass that makes tracks such as Dead City, with its enormous chorus, among the best on the album.
Granted the change in instrumentation is startling, but it is a move that will only gain them new admirers. If anything it helps the listener focus on Graham’s vocals and his ambiguous lyrics, which as with their previous albums hint at the horrors that lurk in society and relationships.
The controlled passion here reminds me instantly of The National, while the use of vintage instruments reminds me of The Walkmen. This album could be a turning point for the band that propels them to similar success.
There’s even a good single on the album, Another Bed, which in an interview with Thisisfakediy Graham admits “is probably the closest thing we’ve ever had to a proper single.” He adds though that this is an album that “is meant to be listened to as a whole.” We’d go even further saying that due to his vocals and use of familiar vintage keyboards this is an album that demands to be listened to as a whole. Album of the year? Well, early days, but its certainly in the running.
by Joe Lepper