Release Year: 2014
Before The Cure announced their massive 2016 tour, I’d never heard of The Twilight Sad. I remembered Robert Smith covering one of their songs, but otherwise I had no idea who they were. Since I’ll be seeing them along with The Cure in June, I wanted to check them out and know what to expect. I initially thought they were one of these indie art rock bands that try to be so smart but nobody understands them. But instead they’re a shoegaze band that plays with rock and electro music, which keeps their music interesting.
One of the things I really like about the band are the vocals of singer James Graham. He has a strong Scottish accent that comes out in everything he sings and if you’re a sucker for accents, it’s so delightful. It also makes him sound haunting and ethereal on tracks like “Last January” and “Drown So I Can Watch.” There are times where his voice matched with the subdued music reminds me a bit of Interpol, like on “I Could Give You All that You Don’t Want,” but at least his sound is distinct and doesn’t leave too much room for comparisons. Something about the moody music and Graham’s vocals match so well and leave you with chills.
Listening to the opening song “There’s a Girl in the Corner” makes you think you have the band figured out. It’s slow, moody, and hypnotizing making you think all their songs are going to be in this style. But as soon as you hear “It Was Never the Same” you realize they refused to be labeled so easily. Unlike some of the other tracks, this one starts off with a cold electro riff that sounds like haunting wails warbling in the background. The song continues on this dark, isolated vibe until the chorus where everything brightens up as if to say all hope isn’t lost yet. Another great song that defies expectations is “In Nowheres,” which is the heaviest on the album. It’s full of intense dirty guitars – it feels like you’re listening to a different band at first. They then mix this sound with their softer rock side for an unsettling vibe. It doesn’t help that lyrics like “tell me when you’re gone/you’ll tell me when you’re gone/they won’t find me/I’m all you’ll ever see” make it sound like something foul is going on. The lyrics make me think he’s a murderer, but maybe it’s just an odd love song.
When they’re not incorporating elements of rock and electro in their songs, their music is hypnotizing, a little trippy, and very atmospheric. It can be light and upbeat or subdued and melancholy; either way it sounds like everything is washing over you, including Graham’s vocals. Even though the band does get into dark territory at times, the album is pretty soothing, with exception of some of their heavier songs. It’s something you can put on, close your eyes, and just let your mind run wild with images taken from the lyrics. One song that does this the best is the closing track “Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep.” Right out the gate the track is nothing but sadness. You picture that opening lyric of someone leaving their lover matched with the somber music and let the tears roll. Something about it is fucking heartbreaking, especially with the line “You don’t haunt me anymore/you don’t need me anymore.” You can feel and hear all the sadness running through the song it leaves you shaken to your core.
My final verdict on the band? I really like them. I appreciate how they have their slow, dark, moody side, but mix it with some rock and electro to switch things up. The album is not boring thanks to their incorporation of out styles and even if a song wasn’t something I enjoyed too much, I could at least tolerate it. It also doesn’t hurt that James Graham has a distinct voice that sounds somber and depressed in one song and haunting and cynical in another. While you can hear influences from bands like Joy Division and The Cure, their musical blend, songwriting, and vocals make them stand out on their own.