The Twilight Sad: Gloriously Gloomy

Text by KralTunes

Who doesn’t like an album that seems to be made for the season?  I personally have my favorites (Pearl Jam’s RIOT ACT is a perfect snow shoveling album, and I defy anyone who would doubt that).  For me, The Twilight Sad’s latest, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave embodies the flavor of Autumn.

Although I am a newer convert to The Twilight Sad, they have become a favorite on my playlist.  James Graham (vocals), Andy MacFarlane (guitar), and Mark Devine (drums), (and formerly Craig Orzel), are a Scottish indie/folk/post-rock/noise-rock/etc. band, and as an aside, are my first review of a band from this region of the U.K. (nice).

Sonically, the band has almost always leaned on that tried and true indie-folk rock sound (with some synthesizer thrown in for good measure).  With this release, however, the Scotsmen try their hand at a much more atmospheric and electronic sound.

Post rock droning and delay effects riddle this release and are aptly coupled with very dreary overtones.  Even the tunes that sound like they could take a poppier turn (“Last January”; “Could Give You All That You Don’t Want”) wind up anchored down into this bog of despair – and that’s not a complaint from this guy.

In fact, one thing the band has always been comfortable with is darker subject matter, and fortunately they provide tons here – with plenty to spare.  This is particularly true with the opener, “Theres a Girl on the Corner”; its haunting synths set the mood quite well and the just as dire lyrics provide just as much discomfort:

“There’s a girl in the corner
And she’s crying for you
Gonna die for you
She’s not coming back
She’s not coming back from there
And you’re not coming back
And you’re not coming back again…”

Not only is this piece an emotionally hard hitting way to open to the album, it is also a very accurate precursor for what is about to follow throughout the entire 44 or so minutes.

Even “Drown So I Can Watch”, which opens like a lighter, all sunshine and sunflowers type track, ends up smacking you over the head with lines like “I put you through hell/But you carry it so well”. An early favorite of mine, this song showcases how well the band’s writing skills have evolved over the years; it is a nice, folk-ish song laid over a melody that is more complex than any that you would hear on the radio.  Even with the morbid lyrical imagery, this is a track you’ll rewind again and again.

Another highlight is the title track; I had to immediately listen to it again with decent headphones.  At first it seems like it’s gonna be a silent juggernaut; it builds and creates an expectation that they are leading us towards a huge release. However, when The Twilight Sad finally delivers the punch, it is not in the form of a sonic boom – it’s more like a sonic crackle – but it is as effective as if they are trying to blow out your eardrums.

Finally, “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep,” is another gem with a much more subtle piano-based melody accompanied with a pulsating bass and ‘tear my heart out’ moan (“There’s nothing left for us/You don’t need me anymore”).  It’s also the perfect way to close out the whole of this depressing affair.

Although The Twilight Sad have never been the Pantera of their genre, they usually throw in a few rockers like “That Birthday Present”. This collection is notably a more subdued and serious effort from the The Twilight Sad.

In all its dreary goodness, ladies and gentleman, what we have here is an album.

Unlike the folk rock music of the ever popular Mumford and Sons, where folks select a few tracks for their playlists and leave the rest, this is a complete vision that the band follows from beginning to end. While you may not be inclined to put Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave on at any old time, this one may have the lasting power to be an annual favorite for when the days get shorter and those cold breezes start to pick up.

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