On ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants to Leave’ The Twilight Sad serve up the sonic equivalent of a Scandinavian thriller – bleak and unforgiving yet also utterly captivating. The Scottish band are no strangers to inhabiting the darker hues of the musical spectrum, and on their fourth full-length release their experience shows as they run the gloom-ridden gamut with the poise and elegance their unwavering fan base have come to expect.
From the sombre opener ‘There’s A Girl In The Corner’, which sees frontman James Graham proclaiming in his sublimely haunting voice that ‘she’s not coming back’, to the mournful refrain of ‘you don’t want me anymore’ on closing track ‘Sometimes I Wished I Could Fall Asleep’ the mood doesn’t get noticeably brighter, but that’s the whole point. This record, like those preceding it and doubtless those to follow, deals in textures. Lead-off single ‘Last January’ has an energy and dynamism about it where ‘Leave The House’ is a minimalist slow-burner – darkness comes in many shades.
The mid-section of the album is where the band really hit their stride, making like Arcade Fire viewed in negative, exhibiting the same sense of grandeur but none of the optimistic joy of the Canadian group. A driving bassline pushes ‘I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want’ forward, providing a solid foundation for memorable vocal melodies, and this formula is reprised on ‘Drown So I Can Watch’. The tempo drops for the righteously epic ‘It Never Was The Same’, which boasts a stadium-sized chorus with a glorious emphasis on the unshakable Scottish inflection in Graham’s voice, and stays down for the crashing ‘In Nowheres’, where the chant of ‘no more nightmares’ sits within probably the most nightmarish cut on the record. Standard.
The title track is the closest thing on ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here…’ to the band’s previous record ‘No One Can Ever Know’, which infamously sought a new direction (its success depends on who you talk to). This is ironic, since the prevalent sound on the release bearing its name is a lot fuller and more instrument-driven than its synth-led predecessor, from which ‘Pills I Swallow’ still has a slight hangover.
There is certainly a black cloud hanging over this record – doubtless resembling those which dominate the band’s native Highland skies during the winter months – but that is absolutely no reason not to dive headfirst into it. The Twilight Sad are far too accomplished to slip into the self-absorbed insipidity which tends to plague this genre, and ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here…’ is a superb example of the band at the top of their game – nothing this bleak has ever been this rewarding. Not even The Killing.
Words - Joe Ponting
'Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave' is released on October 27th
Listen to 'There's A Girl In The Corner'