Monday, 12 October 2009

The Twilight Sad: Forget The Night Ahead

Some albums are easy to write about. Nuances leap out at you, hooks are obvious, lyrics are noteworthy, patterns emerge through the music. But none of that has happened for me with the Twilight Sad’s second album Forget The Night Ahead.

After ten listens, I’m still struggling to put my thoughts on the album into words. I think I like it. I think it’s good. But I can’t be sure. It’s so deep, so full of layers that need time and thought to unravel that it’s almost impossible to judge at this stage.

It’s definitely a progression musically from their d├ębut, I can tell you that for certain. It’s a bigger record, with more going on, more instruments thrown in (apparently the band used a fire extinguisher on one of the tracks), more sound, more everything. But it doesn’t suffer from it, it’s still subtle, gentle and charming, despite its brash, loud exterior at times.

Many of the tracks don’t seem to go anywhere, and they don’t go anywhere particularly quickly. It’s often a pedestrian ride, but that’s good, it gives you time to think, to analyse, to delve into the album’s depths, to interpret the meanings and feelings behind it.

Accessible windows into the album are few and far between. The Room, a future single, is possibly the best song to judge whether the band are right for you, all building, sweeping, epic soundscapes, with glockenspiel used to great effect. The band have never been shy of deviating from the traditional guitar-bass-drums-vocals combo, and they’re the stronger for it. Other styles and sounds might not appear on the surface, but listen carefully enough, and they reveal themselves over time.

Lyricist and singer James Graham could do with being higher in the mix; his voice is often straining to be heard below doom-laden guitar and you have to listen extra hard to snatch a couple of words of lyric. But it’s deliberately obtuse. Forget The Night Ahead is not a record to dip in and out of, to listen to the odd track on the bus or the Tube, to listen to at parties, or indeed in company. But it’s a great late night listen, the atmospheric darkness of the music drawing you in to the mysterious, thick world of the Twilight Sad.

Fans of Frightened Rabbit will find plenty to love here (the Twilight Sad are effectively their noisier, bolder cousins) but Forget The Night Ahead will also attract fans of My Bloody Valentine, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Hope of the States, Phil Spector and My Latest Novel, whose Laura McFarlane contributes to a couple of tracks here.

7/10

This review was written for TMM.

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