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Twilight Sad, The - No One Can Ever Know Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 7.5
Lyrics 7.5
Production 7.5
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 7.5
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 75%
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Twilight Sad, The - No One Can Ever Know

Reviewed by: Jeremy Aaron (02/10/12)
The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know
Record Label: FatCat
Release Date: February 7, 2012

Despite drawing easy comparisons to labelmates like Frightened Rabbit and We Were Promised Jetpacks as well as post-punk revivalists like Interpol and The Walkmen, The Twilight Sad seem to have carved out a niche all their own. Although the tricks employed on their debut LP Fourteen Autumns, Fifteen Winters (distortion, accordions, vocalist James Graham's trilled Rs) aren't necessarily unique in and of themselves, attempting to find a truly close musical cousin is a fruitless endeavor. The follow-up Forget the Night Ahead turned up the layers of guitar noise still further, removed most of its predecessor's intimacy in favor of cold detachment and aimed for the rafters with huge choruses. Even with their reinvented sound, it was still impossible to mistake The Twilight Sad for any other band.

And so the trend continues with No One Can Ever Know, the latest album from the Kilsyth, Scotland, indie rockers. During the time leading up to the album's release, the band indicated that the new material draws inspiration from industrial acts like Cabaret Voltaire and experimentalists like Can and Liars. The most striking difference between these songs and their earlier work is the heavy use of keyboards. Typically, the addition of synthesizers to a noisy post-punk band's sound tends to result in campy goth dance music (see: Killing Joke), but that's far from the case here. Everything on the new record remains firmly in line with what seems like The Twilight Sad's singularly dismal vision. Once again, they have created an album that sounds very little like their past recordings and yet still sounds exactly like The Twilight Sad.

Which is something, I guess, we should celebrate. This trio is clearly not just another band content to remain in a holding pattern. And the new synth embellishments, which easily could have been disastrously overcooked, largely work for them. However, No One Can Ever Know is almost sure to be disappointing to proponents of the band's trademark curtain of fuzz. Insistent guitar rhythms still play a prominent role on the album (see "Dead City", a definite highlight), but they never erupt in the chilling torrents of old. The opener "Alphabet" is so key-centric, Andy MacFarlane's guitar remains almost inaudible in the background until about forty seconds before its conclusion. The synth vibe is much more haunted house than dancefloor, which aligns with the usual Twilight Sad atmosphere, but it's difficult not to feel like something is missing.

Also mostly absent is Graham's uncanny ability to hit squarely in the heart with a simple turn of phrase. I had pretty much deduced this would be the case upon the selection of "Sick", a starkly monotone cut, as a single. With a few exceptions, most notably the aforementioned "Dead City", it's a fitting representation of the entirety of No One Can Ever Know. These songs are just as brooding and somber as we are used to hearing from The Twilight Sad, but Graham surprisingly struggles to strike the same degree of emotional connection, usually one of the band's biggest strengths.

Readers familiar with the band's catalog can probably reason that I'm partial toward the band's turn as a cheese-free version of Glasvegas on Forget the Night Ahead, an album that represented The Twilight Sad not only at their most marketable, but also at their chest-beating best. As a music fan in general, I cheer their-- or any band's-- desire to move on to new ventures. And by almost any measure, No One Can Ever Know is a very credit-worthy effort. But as a Twilight Sad fan, it leaves me feeling slightly let down, though only because they've proven themselves capable of so much more.

7.5/10

RIYLInterpol's Antics; Cold Cave's Cherish the Light Years; War Tapes' The Contintental Divide


Track Listing1. Alphabet (4:26)
2. Dead City (6:25)
3. Sick (4:23)
4. Don't Move (4:20)
5. Nil (5:18)
6. Don't Look At Me (4:09)
7. Not Sleeping (5:11)
8. Another Bed (4:39)
9. Kill In in the Morning (5:53)


Preview/Buy the album at Amazon MP3.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 8 of 8.
11:55 AM on 02/10/12
#2
Blake Solomon
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im listening to this for the first time now. hopefully it stacks up, even though from your review it sound like it doesn't quite.
12:31 PM on 02/10/12
#3
georgedcc
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This album is fantastic. I love this band and I love the darker more sparse approach they've taken with this album. Their earlier work is still fantastic, but this album transcends that.
12:58 PM on 02/10/12
#4
InaGreendase
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Agree with the score, which in my book is still considerably high (after all, 7.5's exactly halfway between mediocre and the best albums of all time).

Quote:
Also mostly absent is Graham's uncanny ability to hit squarely in the heart with a simple turn of phrase. I had pretty much deduced this would be the case upon the selection of "Sick", a starkly monotone cut, as a single. With a few exceptions, most notably the aforementioned "Dead City", it's a fitting representation of the entirety of No One Can Ever Know. These songs are just as brooding and somber as we are used to hearing from The Twilight Sad, but Graham surprisingly struggles to strike the same degree of emotional connection, usually one of the band's biggest strengths.

Given the emotional impact songs like "Prostitute", "Made to Disappear" and "The Wrong Car" had on me when I first discovered these guys, this is precisely the only thing I wish had carried over (maybe the wall-of-guitar-noise too). But I kinda got used to the more smeary, straight-ahead emotional delivery, and while maybe it's not overall better (namely because of songs like the aforementioned), I think this album might actually be more consistent than the last one. The melodies rise and crash just a little softer but it's just very smooth and gripping, like with "Alphabet".

As far as peers, I think Forget the Night Ahead was kind of the Scottish alternative to the National, especially High Violet era.
01:30 PM on 02/10/12
#5
Jeremy Aaron
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Agree with the score, which in my book is still considerably high (after all, 7.5's exactly halfway between mediocre and the best albums of all time).



Given the emotional impact songs like "Prostitute", "Made to Disappear" and "The Wrong Car" had on me when I first discovered these guys, this is precisely the only thing I wish had carried over (maybe the wall-of-guitar-noise too). But I kinda got used to the more smeary, straight-ahead emotional delivery, and while maybe it's not overall better (namely because of songs like the aforementioned), I think this album might actually be more consistent than the last one. The melodies rise and crash just a little softer but it's just very smooth and gripping, like with "Alphabet".

As far as peers, I think Forget the Night Ahead was kind of the Scottish alternative to the National, especially High Violet era.
Agreed pretty much all around. "I Became a Prostitute", I thought, could have launched these guys to stardom. It's the type of song that can stop you in your tracks regardless of what you're doing and put a lump in your throat even if you can't fully discern the lyrics through Graham's brogue. I knew the first time I heard it that it would become one of my all-time favorites. Their debut had a number of real stunners, too ("Walking for Two Hours", "Mapped by What Surrounded Them"). As an album, this one is probably more even feel-wise, but none of it really struck me like I was hoping for.

I can see the comparison to The National; High Violet was far and away my favorite album of 2010, and Forget the Night Ahead was my #2 for 2009, so I definitely have an equal affection for both albums. One thing I didn't mention in the review is how key the percussion was to the sound of Forget the Night Ahead as well, and that's probably where the strongest parallel with High Violet lies. That type of bombastic drumming doesn't surface often on the new album either, but obviously, it wouldn't have been a natural fit anyway.

In any event, solid album. Perhaps my own expectations and prejudices interfere somewhat with making a completely accurate judgment. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last.
03:29 PM on 02/10/12
#6
Mr. November
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really love this

i hear a lot of Radioheadish stuff on it, maybe that's just me.
04:06 PM on 02/10/12
#7
georgedcc
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While I do love I Became A Prostitute, The Twilight Sad's best moment is this song;



Seriously, first time I heard this it blew me away. Fucking perfect. I always enjoy people's reactions when they listen to this band for the first time, just because of how strong his Scottish accent is. I particularly like it when Americans hear it just because it can sound so unintelligible at first listen.
12:50 AM on 02/14/12
#8
ericwebb89
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This album is the first I'd ever heard the Twilight Sad, and it was exactly what I needed. To me, there is a lot of the the Cure/Joy Division hiding in these tracks, which I think is great. The whole album has this really great balance of moodiness and energy going. I appreciate that it's "sad," but not boring. It's nice to have some music to listen to when you're down that still kind of pumps you up.

And I guess it's no surprise then that I thought "Alphabet," "Dead City" and "Another Bed" were the most interesting tracks. I really enjoyed it, and I picked it for my album of the week: http://mattneric.wordpress.com/2012/...kilting-me-so/

But after reading this review, I'm even more interested in comparing with their past two albums. Good stuff!
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