The Twilight Sad
No One Can Ever Know
(Fat Cat Records)
Many of the best Scottish bands have gloom to match the atmosphere of their country, and The Twilight Sad has been one of the greatest proponents of that sound in recent years. Vocalist James Graham’s lyrics are thickly twisted with his accent as he sings of the darker elements in life.
On their previous two records, The Twilight Sad combined the acerbic tones of Arab Strap and Frightened Rabbit with the twisted soundscape of Mogwai. On No One Can Ever Know, however, this band has experimented with its sound by stripping back the layers. There are still distorted guitars and churning synth, but the sounds are perfectly honed. Less is certainly more and this is the band’s greatest achievement to date.
“Sick” features synth straight out of krautrock, and “Another Bed” likewise incorporates a post-rock feeling. These are songs that feel like they’ve already survived comparisons to Joy Division and have emerged all the stronger for holding their own.
Shifting the musical sound doesn’t mean that Graham’s vocals have sunken into monotony. On the contrary, he has learned precisely how to use his voice to his advantage. There’s true showmanship in “Dead City,” when he can go from a purred whisper to a focused shout. Likewise, it was a wise choice to have the last track, “Kill It in the Morning,” end with Graham’s strained voice outlasting the instrumentation.
No One Can Ever Know is the sound of a band prepping to take the world by storm. Whereas other bands from the United Kingdom have suffered from getting too retro the minute they dabble in electronic sounds, The Twilight Sad have only strengthened the moody intensity that they’ve been working on for years.