This review originally ran on The Quietus http://thequietus.com/articles/16597-the-twilight-sad-nobody-wants-to-be-here-and-nobody-wants-to-leave-review
A year ago James Graham, flanked by core band mates Andy MacFarlane and Mark Devine, stood bathed in light under the medieval architraves of Paisley Abbey with an entire orchestra at his feet and his band’s future in his hands. That crisp October night The Twilight Sad delivered a performance that caused a shift in their trajectory. Amidst the Gothic Revival beauty of the history-rich building and the tombs of kings, the three-piece delivered a show that rightfully saw them anointed chief royalty of this generation of Scots indie rock.
The group’s fourth LP, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave, more than justifies this ascension. Where there were youthful, wayward meanderings, Graham has emerged a man, exorcising the sorrows of lessons learnt along the way. The synths are comfortable in their supporting role, new orchestral sounds emerge, guitars return to the forefront and Graham’s rich vocal is more assured, with a newly matured verve for heart-melting melodies that elevates this record to a place where the band had earlier dabbled.
Where synths jarred over directionless, drowned vocals and heavy, claustrophobic bass lines in 2012’s No One Can Ever Know, this record soars with an evolved clarity and punchy guitar hooks, addictive refrains and vocal melodies to weep over. Elements of the trio’s previous offerings are present, but the pop sensibilities of 2007’s seminal debut Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters have been revisited and lovingly grasped (perhaps in part due to the band’s touring of that record in the past year, as well as an increased exploration of stripped-back performances).
The menacing, jealous thud of opener ‘There’s A Girl In The Corner’ sets a paranoid, uncomfortable tone before the pace-driven hurt of ‘Last January’, which hints heavily at The Twilight Sad’s reignited vigour for placing melody centre stage.
‘I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want’ sees that ambition well and truly nailed – it’s a song that unashamedly demonstrates the marriage of universal emotion with uplifting pop structures. It’s the sound of those booze-drowned nights when the line gets crossed and things can’t be unsaid, set free in four-minute pop perfection.
The new wave, synth-pop waltz of ‘It Never Was The Same’ owes a nod to Depeche Mode, with melodies weaving over a distorted guitar solo and rock bass line. ‘Drown So I Can Watch’ is where the pedal really hits the floor – it is a perfectly executed C86-inspired indie pop song that should be compulsorily imbibed at regular and extremely loud intervals.
‘In Nowheres’ shifts to a migrainous, unsettling rock fuzz which pulls back into the void with echoes of Faith No More, before the MBV undercurrent of the sublime title track cradles a yearning, defeated gospel; Graham’s vocal is an angelic aural masterpiece of reverb-ridden lament and torment, bolstered by building brass section. The rhythmic backbeat and sinisterly saccharine celesta hook of ‘Pills I Swallow’ belie the spiralling destruction of our hero’s relationship before the further hymnal/filmic anguish of the phenomenal ‘Leave The House’.
Closer ‘Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep’ is a beautifully bleak love letter. Slaying lyrical couplets drift over simple key fills – the witching hour confessions of crippling, failing desire, a hopeless realisation of emotional insecurity. But like love’s twisted compulsion we’re seduced straight back to listen all over again.
The demise of these relationships has yielded most bittersweet of fruits. As the album’s outlook nosedives towards irreversible melancholy, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave becomes increasingly hypnotic. It’s a record that will seep into your soul and see The Twilight Sad’s existing devotees become part of a considerably larger love-in.