It’s fair to say that musicians seek inspiration for songwriting from difficult times in their lives. The hardest part is to to make it palatable for the listeners. In the case of Scotland’s The Twilight Sad, their approach is unflinching and gritty; tackling child abuse, prostitution and bullying and setting the themes to thrilling arrangements, which are emotionally driven but not obvious enough to be described as anthemic.
In alignment with the troubling subject matter, ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ begins with some foreboding percussion and a squawl of feedback. Whereas their compatriots Glasvegas translate difficult childhoods to the masses, The Twilight Sad’s message is more mysterious and therefore more sinister. Key lines stick out such as “It’s a sorry affair, we’re on a hiding to nowhere” (from the stunning ‘Seven Years Of Letters’) or “You were seen in the cherry tree. Look what you have done” (from the equally brilliant and disturbing ‘The Room’). These words could mean any number of things and The Twilight Sad leave it to our imagination to interpret them however they wish.
Not everything works so well this time around. ‘That Birthday Present’, for instance, is buried under a post-rock storm and although each track packs plenty of drama, they’re not always accompanied by the driving hook which is the key element to the majority of their best material. Still, the desolate piano accompanying ‘At The Burnside’ is a reminder that they can deliver haunting subtlety. A pity that the message is diluted by a barrage of drums, though.
‘Forget The Night Ahead’, for me, falls a little short of the high standards set by their debut album but then their Mogwai vs Kitchens Of Distinction sound had the advantage of shock value first time around. This time it’s easier to be prepared for what’s in store but the results still pack equal shots of power and despair in to a form of musical euphoria.
Glasvegas, Kitchens Of Distinction, Mogwai