The Twilight Sad - No One Can Ever Know
The Twilight Sad have been around for the best part of a decade now, grafting away on extensive tours with the likes of Scottish heroes Mogwai and Errors, and more recently making something of a cult splash Stateside. Their 2007 debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, is a modern rock classic, combining stark visual lyrics and James Graham’s unabashed Scottish vocals, taking a fresh approach to shoegaze’s tired bones. Though it sometimes seemed as though the band had peaked early, this third LP is a striking attempt at moving away from their debut’s signature sound and into darker, industrial territory.
Producer Andy Wetherall guests here, lending the record an eerie presence that catalyses the sense of dread and confinement delivered by the thick haze of guitars and synth. No One Can Ever Know, right down to the haunting, eyeless figure on the cover is an album out to deliver a sense of purgatory and trauma. “I hate watching you grow” repeatedly harks Graham in a choral cry on mid-album highlight 'Don’t Look at Me'. Musically the record mostly orbits a 21st century take on 80s gothic post-punk, rarely straying from its thematic darkness. It’s an album shrouded within its own mysterious shell; one that requires an attentive ear and dedication to crack.
Album closer 'Kill It in the Morning' feels like a cumulative finale, an album’s worth of angst and distrust purging itself through Graham's final piercing lyric; as the instruments cut out: “What more do you need to know?/ I’m staying here well down below”. It’s a simple way grasping the listener’s attention but does so with a profound success, allowing the listener to sit and reflect on everything just experienced. A comparison between 'Kill It in the Morning' and Manic Street Preachers' 1994 The Holy Bible cut 'Die in the Summertime' seems warranted – both of which channel an oddly similar slow, progressive industrial crunch before falling into verse.
As clichéd and po-faced as the idea may be, No One Can Ever Know is a thinking person’s rock record. If it fails to hit you hard initially, don’t underestimate it; it’s going to summon you back for more till it knows you understand its purpose. The Twilight Sad have written and executed their darkest call to arms yet, a tormented, blurry rock and roll assault voiced by Scotland's most intriguing vocalist since Aidan Moffat.