Album Review The Twilight Sad - Forget The Night Ahead

Enjoy this record. Preferably quite loud.

The first thing that strikes us about ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ is the noise that opens the album. Not many records this year manage to send a shiver down our collective spine in the first ten seconds, but this is one of them, and it’s continuing to have that effect. From this, we know instinctively that The Twilight Sad’s second record will be be two things: a step up from their 2007 debut ‘Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters’ (which is impressive in itself), and an intense listen. We think too that it will be quite an unsettling one. It’s not… well, at least until you consider the lyrics. James Graham (vocals) has told us that the album contains far darker lyrics than any of their other material. But more on that later.

As said, the album opens with that sound. Pounding drums enter, as ‘Reflection of the Television’ gets going. The emphasis here is on the bassline (courtesy of Craig Orzel), which reels the listener in from its first note. However, the lyrics deserve a special mention. They are rather cryptic, their meaning shrouded in mystery. In fact, Graham has said that ‘you need to look into them a bit to realise [that they are so dark]. They are mainly based around losing people and being none too proud or happy with myself about my antics and situations I’ve found myself in’. ‘I stole it from a letter / Off your tongue it rolled / Sheltered from the weather you could be so bold,’ he sings, as the song builds to a stunning climax. One of the most intense opening tracks we have heard this year, it sets such a mood that you would be forgiven for thinking that the album is going to be a rather downbeat affair.

However, by the end of the next track, ‘I Became A Prostitute’, you should realise that while ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ seems impenetrable from the outset, as it unfolds it becomes clear that the songs here are the most accessible the band have written to date. Most every song here could be a single – with the exceptions of the instrumental ‘Scissors’, a track that can be summed up in one word: terrifying; and also ‘Floorboards Under The Bed’, which, with its a capella introduction and unusual song structure, is a song that could be considered a bit of a departure for the band.

The two most immediate tracks here, however, are, in our opinion, two of the finest songs that The Twilight Sad have written. One, driven by piano (which lends an oddly Coldplay-esque sound to it – now, don’t get us wrong; that is not a criticism, but more a statement that highlights the track’s anthemic qualities. The chorus is the most uplifting section on the album, despite, again, those lyrics: ‘Don’t tell anyone else that you were seen in the cherry tree / Look what you have done / You’re all on your own’), is ‘The Room’. The other is the incredible ‘The Neighbours Can’t Breathe’, a track built upon Andy McFarlane’s skyscraping riff, as well as some impressive drumming from Mark Devine. Graham’s lyrics are once again worthy of note: ‘You had to lie / Your secret’s safe and sound /…you keep pulling all the heart strings’.

Closer ‘At The Burnside’ is reminiscent of Sigur Rós, and also a remarkable end to an exceptional album. ‘Forget The Night Ahead’ is a triumph, yet another in a list of great Scottish albums from 2009. Startlingly intense from ‘Television’ to ‘Burnside’, and a clear progression for The Twilight Sad, it is a thrilling listen. There really does seem to be something for everyone here, whether it’s the immediacy of songs such as ‘Made To Disappear’, ‘The Room’ and ‘The Neighbours Can’t Breathe’, or the thrilling walls of noise created on ‘That Birthday Present’ and ‘Interrupted’. It will be quite interesting to hear where next the band take their sound. Until then, though, enjoy this record. Preferably quite loud.

 

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