The Twilight Sad, Airship

Anthony Page 29/10/2009

Does anyone else, when listening to an album, get a picture of what the band looks like in your head? I had a picture of what I expected The Twilight Sad to look like: tall, skinny, long haired indie types, so imagine my surprise when on walked a band who all, drummer aside, looked liked the skinhead gang from Shane Meadows' This Is England. Thankfully, that was the only shock I had all night, as Twilight Sad were everything I expected live and more, brutal and tear-jerking in equal measure.

The Scots four piece, expanded to five members live with the inclusion of ex-Aerogramme member Martin Docherty, have been classed as part of the new shoegazing movement, which though is partially correct misses the point a bit if you ask me. It's like calling Mogwai a shoegazing band. You can see where people are coming from, but you miss the subtle elements that push the music beyond shoegazing into the area of post-rock. Certainly when The Twilight Sad want to they are able to make the sort of ear-splitting guitar howl reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, but the softer moments invoke post-rock bands like Explosions in The Sky, Lift To Experience and IlikeTrains. Also, to me, shoegazing is fundamentally wonderfully noisy pop music, and songs like Cold Days From The Birdhouse, I Became A Prostitute and Mapped By What Surrounded Them, for all the brutality and tortured vocals can't be described as pop, except maybe by weirdos like me.

The pained howls of lead singer James Graham are a key element to the appeal of The Twilight Sad, there's not many singers who can make a line as innocent as 'You're the grandson's toy in the corner' sound so haunting and full of doom. The rest of the band play their part and create tight, intense music - even in the lighter, softer moments of songs the feeling of an explosion of noise just waiting to happen doesn't leave the listener. The intensity of the album is brought alive by musicians at the top of their game and at ease with each other and the music they play. There is more than just scene-hopping shoegazing to The Twilight Sad, along with fellow Scots My Latest Novel they are making some of the most vital and visceral music in Britain today, on record and live, and both deserve your attention.

One thing My Latest Novel could learn from The Twilight Sad, though, is the blend of the live set. The Twilight Sad had the mix of songs from the first album and new second album spot on, mixing seamlessly between the two, showcasing the progression of the songs and giving the fans a perfect insight into the band's music career to date. My Latest Novel when I saw them earlier in the year sadly stuck far too close to the new album and ignored the early albums, so in my mind that makes it one up to The Twilight Sad in the battle of Scots post-rock upstarts. The hype surrounding the new Twilight Sad album is deserved as is every raving review, apart from The Daily Mirror who hated it, but that's probably a good thing if you think about it. And, live, the band prove themselves to be the real deal and an essential band that you just have to take to your heart.