8.4

The Twilight Sad: Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave

Music Reviews The Twilight Sad
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The Twilight Sad: <i>Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave</i>

Dark and edgy as a rule, The Twilight Sad have nonetheless tread their way across a significant amount of stylistic territory in the course of three albums.

The transition from debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters through Forget The Night Ahead to No One Can Ever Know might’ve been a bit jostling. Gloom clung like fog to the band’s music, but in tweaking the knobs for noise, volume and distortion, The Twilight Sad skittered in different sonic directions from album to album.

And while the Scottish trio doesn’t really turn over any new rocks on record No. 4, Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is a step forward in defining the band’s scope. The Twilight Sad haven’t jettisoned anything. Spooky folk, shoegaze, industrial and the post-punk UK alternative of forebears like The Cure now all find a place under the umbrella.

“There’s a Girl in the Corner” is the first of this record’s unsettled party-goers, a song that heats up quickly and remains tense and simmering above Andy MacFarlane’s bed of layered, distorted guitars.

Single “Last January” is gritty post-punk, alienation hanging suspended in the vocals of James Graham. It’s about surrender of sorts, the weird outsider too old to fit in finally coming to terms with that damning sense of separation. Along the way, the haunting echoes of guitar circle, a vulture ready to feed on misery.

Recording at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom studio in Glasgow, The Twilight Sad deftly blend all those shades of darkness in the music with seductive melodies. “I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want” is like reveling in a bad mood, chasing the frantic pleasure of wreckage. “Drown So I Can Watch” might’ve been a hit 20 years ago, sounding like a lost Cure single balanced on the edge between Disintegration and Wish, anguished lyrics held in a momentary bloom.

The band steps back into the punishing industrial realm of their last record on “In Nowheres,” the backdrop of noise fighting to push Graham to the background. The visceral title track pushes that conflict further, to remarkable claustrophobic effect.

Album closer “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep” acts as a departure: slow, stately and sorrowful. The music is little more than a drum steadily thumping at the pace of a nervous heartbeat, deep ringing piano chords and Graham’s vocals, yet it’s a drenching, overwhelming sound. “There’s nothing left for us,” Graham sings, the immensity of those words painfully driven home.

Nobody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave is The Twilight Sad’s most demanding album, dragging listeners from burning coals to murky, cold depths. The band’s past is here, in all its different forms. So too is the future for The Twilight Sad, a band never more in command of its dark magic.