Album Review – The Twilight Sad – It Won/t Be Like This All The Time

So, rumours of The Twilight Sad producing an album containing eleven versions of  “The Love Cats” have proved to be wide of the mark. OK so this is a bit tongue in cheek but my, don’t people like to moan? Social media has been full of experts defining a new scientific paradigm; Schrodinger’s band. The Twilight Sad simultaneously morphing into The Human League AND The Cure at the same time. People need to get lives.

It’s not as if the band hid what they were doing. This album was widely trailed with tunes played live, and album tracks VTr and Videograms being widely shared and viewed on Youtube. But it seems that when they release an album there is always some doomsayer predicting the demise of something to do with them. It’s either their sound or their style or their live impact, blah, blah, blah. Thankfully there is a rapidly growing band of followers around the globe who relish the new stuff and look forward to any change that the band may bring.

I know I won’t be the first to have said so but, It Won/t Be Like All The Time is a tremendous effort; the same but different, with new influences coming to the fore. Some aspects are bound to be different compared to their previous work. Over the past couple of years there have been collaborations with other musicians in Out Lines and Minor Victories, and exposure on a scale previously unheard of through their association with Robert Smith. 

Both these things come through on this album. Some of the tunes are more accessible than previously and the sound is cleaner; even clearer. VTr, The Arbor and Let’s Get Lost are good examples. These are by no means commercial but they are less dense in form than usual. Often keyboards lead the wall of sound but Andy MacFarlane’s guitar is still a major feature. The opening to Girl Chewing Gum is instantly recognisable as one of their tunes. 

The opening track 10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs is no surprise given the trailed tunes. James Graham’s soaring vocal in a duet with almost orchestral keys. A great tune and right where their recent live performances would lead us. 

Then something a bit weird happens. The ghost of Steve Albini must have been around when they recorded Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting. This is in traditional Twilight Sad style but with opening grunge guitars. The first time I heard it I really did think “where did that come from”.  

The previous four albums have been very much of themselves, each quite compact and consistent in sound and approach. This album shows a maturity and perhaps a confidence, to have more variety in their approach to the songs. I don’t think that you can “get” this album in a couple of listens. It certainly warrants a lot more attention than that and needs it to get the most out of it.

Plus, there is the pure intensity of James Graham’s lyrics. As usual they are almost conversational, belying the pain and angst contained within. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in I/m Not Here [Missing Face] with the almost offhand dismissal “I can’t stand to be round you any more”.

The bottom line is that It Won/t Be Like All The Time is a fine example of how a band can progress and mature whilst keeping the essence of what they have been, and what they are intact. 

It doesn’t have the same effect on me as their 2007 debut Fourteen Summers and Fifteen Winters; you know, the goose bumps and that electric prickly feeling and the odd tear here and there. But that’s only because the impact of their newer stuff has been diminished by time and familiarity. They still allow you to plug yourself into the emotion that has made this band special to me for well over a decade now. Long may they continue.

It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is released on Friday 18th January, 2019.

Click here to pre-order 

Reviewer: Ian Gelling

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