The Twilight Sad - Forget the Night Ahead

Kyle Ellison 21/09/2009

Rating: 4/5

In 2007 The Twilight Sad released an album that caught a lot of people off guard. In a decade where we have increasingly looked to America for the best in alternative music, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters was an album that couldn't sound any more British; I'm not just talking about their broad Scottish accents either. The Twilight Sad create a sound that sparkles in the memory of some of the UK's finest exports, serving as a reminder that Britain, too, has produced some of the world's best loved alternative rock.

Expectations loom large for the band after their critically acclaimed debut, but they show no signs of being distracted by hype or anticipation. On Forget the Night Ahead the band move into darker territories, relying more on dense blocks of guitar and brooding piano than the familiar accordion sound from FA&FW. It's the sound of a band more assure of themselves, exploring different sounds and song structures without departing too far from what they do best. Lyrically, too, the themes are much darker this time around. Single, I Became a Prostitute, for example, uses the image of a lonely prostitute wandering through town, before exploding into the chorus (“You are the bearer of a womb without love, you could of had it all”). While at times the band's music might be described as beautiful, it's not often you could say the same about their lyrics.

It's still the vocals, however, that steal the show. Although more restrained for the most part, there is less friction between words and music, as greater care seems to have been taken over melody. This perhaps shows most clearly on Interrupted, where the vocals dip and glide with their surroundings resulting in one of the albums prettier moments. Singer James Graham still sings with the same passion, but this time around he makes you work for those special moments where he really lets himself go. A couple of tracks, Scissors and Floorboards Under the Bed, even drop the vocals all together and neatly bridge the way between tracks. While fluidity is one of the strengths of Forget the Night Ahead, when the vocals do become more animated it never fails to bring a rush of blood to the head. Just as they had produced some of the most memorable moments from FA&FW (“They're sitting around the table, and their talking behind your back!”), it's in the louder choruses and hooks where The Twilight Sad sound irresistible.

Speaking of volume, Forget the Night Ahead offers little respite throughout its 50 minute duration. Although there are notable piano cameos, the record is very much dominated by a mighty wall of guitar sounds. My one criticism of the album, in fact, is the distinctiveness offered by the accordion on the first album has been replaced by at times overpowering guitars. Fortunately for The Twilight Sad though, although many try, not many bands manage to pull off this sound quite so effectively. The slow building closer At the Burnside is arguably the albums most striking moment, as the piano struggles past waves of feedback into the foreground. The track swells and always looks likely to explode, but after all the noise that precedes it, resonates much more by fizzling out and leaving you breathless.

This is certainly a strong follow up from The Twilight Sad that, if nothing more, proves that their first album was far from a fluke. I wouldn't be the first to draw comparisons with the likes of My Bloody Valentine and The Jesus and Mary Chain, yet they don't really sound like either of these bands beyond a basic shoegaze aesthetic. Perhaps, then, it's that The Twilight Sad remind us to look a little closer to home for inspiration, as one of Britain's most exciting prospects with two fantastic albums now under their belts.

Release date: 05/10/2009