“… dark, moody, emotional. Breakup music. Music for the lights out. Music to contemplate the futility of it all.”
It would be easy to avoid a band called the Twilight Sad. The initial reaction might be that the words “saga is” are missing. But this ain’t the case. This is the Twilight Sad’s third studio offering, and they’ve been on the go since 2004, so it’s all no more than a tragic coincidence. But the name seems overtly miserable, theatrically so. TTS aren’t going to make 3 minute, shiny pop nuggets, are they?
But of course they’re not, it’s dark, moody, emotional. Breakup music. Music for the lights out. Music to contemplate the futility of it all.
Facile comparisons to Interpol or Editors could be made, but that would kind of put far too much stock in the canon of those, and other, bands who proliferated in the last decade, all of whom desecrated the tombs of new wave, post punk gothiness and paraded it around with much less élan than the originals. I like to think, listening to this effort from The Twilight Sad that they’ve leapfrogged over their predecessors right to the source material. It is an album immersed in the late seventies and early eighties, and the distillation of the influences that spurred on the era’s best bands; krautrock and punk feed back to us through the prism of PiL and Xmal, Sisters, Cabaret Voltaire and early The Cure. Of course, I could be wrong, but the sentiment seems real, right down the nihilistic song titles (Sick, Nil, Don’t Look At Me, etc), and apparent self flagellating angst. At least, I think it is. Vocalist James Graham’s voice is accent heavy, almost sounding as if it’s in another language, and adds another layer of authenticity. Back then the charts were awash with accents, particularly Scottish ones. It’s an accent that works with the post punk. Stewart Adamson knew it, Jim Kerr used to. Lyrically, I have no idea what he’s saying, which suits me, frankly, but he gives it a raw passion. He understands the dynamics required to pull off a chorus.
Keyboards dominate, analogue synths, organs that sound like sheer walls. We’re trapped within, obviously, sharing in TTS’s introspection and intensity. Dead City borrows Neu’s motorik beat, but speeds it up. The bass is fuzzed, and propelling. Most of the stuff is like this, heavy downward strokes on the bass, a dry snare, a good pace throughout. They slow it down, occasionally and not by too much, doing a organ heavy balled on Nil, waiting until just the right moment to bring in the thumping drums. Don’t be put off by what is an awful name, this album is pretty good. Unless of course you’re into shiny pop nuggets, in which case I HATE YOU. Now, off I go to carve my ex’s name into my arm.