words by tom johnson
The last time we heard The Twilight Sad was on ‘Sometimes I Wish I Could Fall Asleep‘ – the closing track on their ‘Nobody Wants To Be Here…’ LP – a heaving, heavy-chested sigh that quietly unraveled across warped piano keys, an afterthought to all that preceded it, like an epilogue delivered in the far-after darkness. The words and sentiments were bruised and muddled, blame attributed and then ripped back, pushed, pulled and forced; the shifting weight between bodies accentuated as the song rolled on, not knowing how or when to stop, never reaching a conclusion and, seemingly, not looking for one either.
Like most of the band’s work, it ached with solemnity, weighted somewhere at its core with an implacable sadness, distinct but disguised, like the remnants of a nightmare that feels all to real in the first wake of the morning after. From that spacious afterword, the band retreated to the shadows and found a way to rise up against it once more, revealing the first track from their brand new album today in the dark demonic form, and perplexing grammatical shape, of the swelling ‘I/m Not Here [missing face]‘, available to listen to below, for the punishing five-and-a-half minutes of its duration.
While its core message is borrowed from the aforementioned, now transitory ‘Asleep’ – “I don’t want to be around you anymore” James Graham pronounces in the track’s malevolent middle-section – the shapes here are markedly different, not just opening up a new chapter but finding a way to soar from the ashes of what’s alseady been. Introduced by a maniacal surge of guitar, peppered with the kind of piano line that disturbs in presence alone, the new track is a formidable beast, a harkening back to roots of old, fundamentally familiar, but changed, too; old names for new shapes, buckled and broken but not so much that they can’t be identified. The guitars boil and burn; Graham’s voice grasps at the space around it, barking in to the ether; the mood is violent and vitriolic. Here be monsters, ragged and raging.
Always, seemingly, bound to and by the weather – able to stir up a storm with one layered crunch of guitar squall – it seems notable that the band return today of all days, just as the weather, which has lain here in Scotland, and elsewhere, humid and unrelenting, finally breaks. The blanket of sunshine has finally giving way to gloomy grey clouds and a cool breeze, marking a shift in the weather that might finally force a moving-on, from this stasis of mourning and stagnation, which began here just as the weather arrived, to whatever comes next; to these blackest of poems belted out in to a city, and a sky, that is at once the same and altogether changed.
It’s too close. You’re too close; too close to comfort me.