Within seconds of hitting play on track one, it’s obvious that The Twilight Sad are changing things up on It Won/t Be Like This All The Time, the fifth studio album from the long-running Scottish post-punk band. Louder and more direct than ever, the initial hard-hitting and pulsating synths of “[10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs]” are as in your face as anything lead singer James Graham & co. have released prior. A reintroduction of sorts similar to what the alien guitar feedback on Yeezus intro track “On Sight” did for Kanye West back in 2013.
It Won/t Be Like This All The Time plays like the record The Twilight Sad were aiming to make with 2012’s No One Can Ever Know, an album that served as the band’s first attempt to go back to the drawing board after releasing Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters and Forget the Night Ahead, two records a bit too similar for their own good. Here, guitarist/producer Andy MacFarlane twists up the volume and pushes the tempos into overdrive, creating a dizzying and urgent tone that barely ever lets up.
At certain points—specifically when Graham’s Scottish brogue raises to a scream on “[10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs]” or its successor “Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting” as the synths and guitars reach a fever pitch—you can feel The Twilight Sad swinging for the cheap seats at a huge arena. It makes sense as It Won/t Be Like This All The Time began to take shape throughout their lengthy late ‘16 tour opening for The Cure in some of the world’s biggest venues.
As a result, this is their most listenable album, one that dials back the heavy-handed metaphors and overwhelming musical gloom for something more danceable and upbeat, though still dour as ever lyrically. This is something they did on purpose, MacFarlane telling NME last year that “I’d say it’s the most accessible without being cheese” with Graham adding, “It’s got really noisy guitars but it’s pretty melodic. I think it’s the next stage of who we’re meant to be. We weren’t nit-picking; it just came naturally. It feels more like a band.”
If that was their mission, they accomplished it wholeheartedly. With more bombast than ever before, an added sheen of guitar noise and extra attention directed towards huge choruses does wonders for The Twilight Sad, who after five albums across 12 years, finally found a way to largely channel the misery and gloom they’ve long become associated with into something more hopeful and, dare I say, fun.
In this way, it’s not a wildly dissimilar record to what their friendly Scottish indie rock counterparts Frightened Rabbit did on their final album, Painting of a Panic Attack, just taken to a further extreme. Graham and the late Scott Hutchison both focused their sadness in a different way than they had prior, altering the music more than the lyrical content to mask what may be going on inside. The end result, though still definitely raw, is suddenly more accessible, danceable and buoyant. And whereas Frightened Rabbit put an extra emphasis on synths to accomplish this, The Twilight Sad look more towards Interpol’s heavy guitar tones to create that rafters-filling bravado.
Robert Smith of The Cure famously said that “[The Twilight Sad] are the best band playing the best songs – consistently brilliant, emotional, intense, inspiring, entertaining.” It Won/t Be Like This All The Time feels like the first record where you can truly see his overwhelming influence, taking the steps that makes you really see why he chose them to open throughout their 2016 arena tour, finally making the music that could sincerely be played on the same large stage as their legendary touring counterparts.