One of these days I’ll need to make a pilgrimage to Scotland to, if anything, thank the country for deep-fried pizza, deep-fried Mars bars and deep-fried deep-fried Mars bars. I’ll specifically need to stop by Glasgow to thank the city for great music. There may be something in their water (or perhaps the oil they use to cook things) that causes great bands to come from that region. And given the strength and promise of their self-titled EP, The Twilight Sad may soon be added to Glasgow’s list of great bands.
The Twilight Sad comes across like a blend of fellow Glaswegians The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Walkmen and just a wee bit of Interpol at their most somber. Led by James Graham’s Scot-accented vocals and the eyes-down sounds coming from Andy MacFarlane’s guitar, The Twlight Sad have a knack for crafting cathartic, visceral shoegazer anthems. They’re also good with song titles, my personal favorite being “That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy,” which would be the great first line in a novel.
Much of the bands songs follow the same formula: a gradual build up of melody leading to a miasma of distortion. That’s not a slight so much as it is an observation since the band is able to make the formula refreshing on each of their songs. Take “That Summer…” for instance. What starts with some desolate strums and steady drums eventually culminates in a glorious wash of sound. Add to that a hard-not-to-love line like “The kids are on fire in the bedroom” and you’ve got something that is at once lovely and emotionally charged. There is a similar gradual build up and pay off in “Three Seconds of Dead Air,” though the drums are much more aggressive and the mood more morose.
The EP also includes one of last year’s great songs, “And She Would Darken the Memory of Youth.” Building again into its swell of sound, it’s one of those songs that you don’t want to end, its snippets of lyrics like “friendly faces with put on smiles” eliciting some vague but undeniable resonance. All you want to do is sit in the center of the aural gyre and enjoy as it churns around.
I missed my chance to see The Twlight Sad when they were in town late last year, but they’ll likely come around again, especially since the band is releasing a full length in a few months, mixed by Peter Katis, whose credits include work with Interpol, The National and Mercury Rev. Until then, the EP will should the appetite quite nicely while keeping you wanting more.