Twilight Sad: Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

THE TWILIGHT SAD [Photo: Neale Smith]

Glasgow's Twilight Sad are neo-shoegazers who could maybe rock the Garden.

The Twilight Sad

Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters

Label: Fat Cat
US Release Date: 2007-04-03
UK Release Date: 2007-05-07

This is what it would have sounded like if the shoegazers ever made it to the arenas. Glasgow's Twilight Sad clearly know their Bloody Valentines from their Slowdives, and on their debut full-length, Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, they borrow a little bit from each. But they've also been paying attention to their anthemic brethren in Idlewild and Frames. The quartet's combination of bombastic choruses and wall of noise crescendos probably won't get them beyond clubs and theaters to the big stages -- at this point they're still a tad too experimental for the masses -- but on songs like "I'm Taking the Train Home" it's easy to imagine them in front of a swaying crowd of thousands (eyes closed and glowing cell phones in hand), rocking the arena with their delay pedals set to stun.

Twilight Sad came together in 2003 and played around Glasgow, creating long, free-form, half-hour or more pieces out of your standard rock gear as well as theremin, tape loops, toy keyboards and whatever else fit in the van. They landed a deal with FatCat on the strength of a four-track demo and issued a very well-received EP last year. Then they holed up in a couple of Scottish studios, taming their lengthy jams and crafting nine songs, before bringing them to Connecticut to mix with Peter Katis (Spoon, Interpol, Mice Parade).

There's a certain formula to many of the songs they came up with -- begin with a repeating melodic phrase, something pretty, add ambience to it, then bring in huge guitar washes that multiply until they threaten to overwhelm and exhaust the song, then return to the intro phrase and be done. But it's a rather compelling formula -- it's worked for scads of bands for decades -- and Twilight Sad do it well.

One of the main attractions, at least for we Yanks, is James Graham's vocals, which are heavily accented. To this they add Andy McFarlane's accordion, plinky piano, and a host of guitar effects, building epic walls of noise. Opener "Cold Days From the Birdhouse", a beautiful number that starts with some feedback around an acoustic guitar and a single piano note being played and swells into a six-string crescendo, sets the tone for the record. And it never lets up. On songs like "Talking With Fireworks/Here, It Never Snowed", they are surely staring down at their sneakers like no one since Ride. On the lovely instrumental closer they sound more like Sigur Ros and ride out with heavily delayed guitars. (They've also listened to their Aerogramme records and have been compared to Frightened Rabbit.)

You might expect that a band named Twilight Sad would be sappy romantics, and you'd be right. Sad they are. The singer gets so emotional, baby, on tunes like "That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy", about a fourteen-year-old's family problems. In "Mapped by What Surrounded Them", the walls are made of blades, and a girl named Emily is cut by shards of stained glass. But it's not the words -- they're nice but more evocative than narrative -- that will move you, so much as Graham's vocals and the sea of guitar that swirls around it. If ever a guitar can be said to swoon, it might be in "I'm Taking the Train Home." And you'll be swooning along with it.






Featured: Top of Home Page

The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Great Peacock Stares Down Mortality With "High Wind" (premiere + interview)

Southern rock's Great Peacock offer up a tune that vocalist Andrew Nelson says encompasses their upcoming LP's themes. "You are going to die one day. You can't stop the negative things life throws at you from happening. But, you can make the most of it."


The 80 Best Albums of 2015

Travel back five years ago when the release calendar was rife with stellar albums. 2015 offered such an embarrassment of musical riches, that we selected 80 albums as best of the year.


Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.


The Redemption of Elton John's 'Blue Moves'

Once reviled as bloated and pretentious, Elton John's 1976 album Blue Moves, is one of his masterpieces, argues author Matthew Restall in the latest installment of the 33 1/3 series.


Whitney Take a Master Class on 'Candid'

Although covers albums are usually signs of trouble, Whitney's Candid is a surprisingly inspired release, with a song selection that's eclectic and often obscure.


King Buzzo Continues His Reign with 'Gift of Sacrifice'

King Buzzo's collaboration with Mr. Bungle/Fantômas bassist Trevor Dunn expands the sound of Buzz Osborne's solo oeuvre on Gift of Sacrifice.


Jim O'Rourke's Experimental 'Shutting Down Here' Is Big on Technique

Jim O'Rourke's Shutting Down Here is a fine piece of experimental music with a sure hand leading the way. But it's not pushing this music forward with the same propensity as Luc Ferrari or Derek Bailey.


Laraaji Returns to His First Instrument for 'Sun Piano'

The ability to help the listener achieve a certain elevation is something Laraaji can do, at least to some degree, no matter the instrument.


Kristin Hersh Discusses Her Gutsy New Throwing Muses Album

Kristin Hersh thinks influences are a crutch, and chops are a barrier between artists and their truest expressions. We talk about life, music, the pandemic, dissociation, and the energy that courses not from her but through her when she's at her best.


The 10 Best Fleetwood Mac Solo Albums

Fleetwood Mac are the rare group that feature both a fine discography and a successful series of solo LPs from their many members. Here are ten examples of the latter.


Jamila Woods' "SULA (Paperback)" and Creative Ancestry and Self-Love in the Age of "List" Activism

In Jamila Woods' latest single "SULA (Paperback)", Toni Morrison and her 1973 novel of the same name are not static literary phenomena. They are an artist and artwork as galvanizing and alive as Woods herself.


The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.


'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.


Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.


Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pays Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.


South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.


Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.