The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know (FatCat)

twilight sad cover

On 24th January of this year, Cloud Nothings released their second album Attack On Memory. The ostensibly profound title hides nothing more than a band soliciting their listeners to discard prejudgements and listen to the music with a blank perspective. The paradox of course is that in seeking to do away with ‘memory’, that memory has actually been evoked.

The same difficulty would be The Twilight Sad’s dilemma, albeit on a more modest scale. The group began their career with the very well received Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters (2007), an album singed with juvenile bitterness and confusion and shrouded in a haze of shoegaze guitar parts. The follow-up, Forget The Night Ahead (2009) played on a similar kind of frustration, this time dealing with loss and regret. And so The Twilight Sad’s third album is bound to be infected from the outset with expectations engendered by the band’s very recognisable brand identity – distorted guitars and drawn-out ruminations. Moving away from this will never be greeted with blank acceptance, but rather, the group will be constantly confronted with exhibits of their past, and inquiries as to how it has changed.

No One Can Ever Know, however, shows a group who have dealt surprisingly well with the transition. The group have relented with the guitars and on two standout tracks – ‘Sick’ and ‘Alphabet’ – the incorporation of keyboards is completely accomplished, casting a new light on their music that gives them an aspect of Radiohead – a group that underwent a similar transition from guitar to keyboard band. In terms of theme, too, the bitterness has been gradually edged out by a softer resignation and melancholy. On ‘Don’t Look At Me’, James Graham’s voice sounds purer for a moment, gliding over the pulsing drums, before bursts of the old anger throw it into relief. Lyrically, he has publically said he is keeping his cards closer to his chest than before, but lost love and disintegrating relationships hang over the songs. It almost seems as though No One Can Ever Know is the twenty-something disillusionment to Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters’ bitter childhood and Forget The Night Ahead’s caustic late adolescence.

No One Can Ever Know is a transition, but it is by no means a wreckful one. That some of the surprising candidness and intrigue of their early work has been lost, and the nagging suspicion that the band is trying to second-guess the evolution of the music scene are the only detrimental aspects of the album. The Twilight Sad are evidence of an overhaul managed well.

Released 06/02/2012


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