Dynamics, at the core, are an integral aspect to any sheet of music. And even at their most literal definition, the volume increased and decreased in a piece of music can mean everything to its success. While The Twilight Sad’s music borders on two different sets of dynamics: forte (loud) and piano (soft), their ability to manipulate them and force them into something splendidly stimulating is also, at the core, what they are all about as a band.
This isn’t a lesson on dynamics and their various combinations but, for The Twilight Sad, it is a strict lesson to us, as the listener, on the evocatively strong significance music can possess. The Scottish band arrived on the scene in 2007 with one of the year’s best albums, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters and there were two easily identifiable facets to the band: the aforementioned dynamics and James Graham’s mesmerizing accent. The latter, thickly decorated in a refined cadence and sprawling with expression, was honored as one of the best introductory voices in years.
For certain, I am not sure how much of a calming force The Twilight Sad’s music can be perceived as. And if allowed, I would like to share a personal experience I had with their debut album. I’m pretty sure I got the record as a present from someone who knew I really wanted to get my hands on it. Things fall apart and for us, our relationship ended in the fall (or in this scenario, it be best to say autumn) of that year. I enjoyed the album just fine until one Friday I grabbed it as I left for work. My commute is usually about 20-25 minutes so that leaves a considerable amount devoted to music listening. Driving to work, it was moving me and when I got out, it poured it all over me. I was coming down the interstate and before I knew it, “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” had me bawling my eyes out.
My purpose in sharing that, and I am sure my editors would like me to get to the point quickly, is that even at our lowest points, the power of music compels us and moves us like no other. With all of that said, Forget the Night Ahead is a resoundingly superb follow-up to that same 2007 album. Lyrically darker than their other work and entirely capturing the essence of what makes The Twilight Sad an excellent band, it’s another amazing experience from top to bottom.
If you check out the song titles, it’s apparent that we’re in for something of a stunning experience. At first glance, “I Became a Prostitute”,follows the winning formula the band had previously set up. A wall of sound that penetrates with roaring guitars and drums that pound as if there is no tomorrow, it also features melodies and harmonies that are progressively and distinctively superior to anything the band has yet to write. There’s also a lot of piano, as in the instrument, showered throughout and it finds its way onto the album’s closer, “At the Burnside”. Graham’s voice is dark and terrifically strong and the piano adds dimensions of depth before the reverb of guitars and drums come cascading in. And just like that *snaps fingers* you have, arguably, the album’s finest sforzando.
One of the few changes is the addition of two instrumental pieces, “Scissors” and “Floorboards Under the Bed”. The former is a wonderful ambient piece with covers and covers of intertwining instruments while the latter begins with some spoken word and is highlighted by a soaring piano part. Both are equally vibrant and they provide clear and concise breathers in between the nine magnificently grandiose arrangements. And speaking of those arrangements, “Interrupted” is where the layered instrumentation proves how impressive these musicians are. Where the drums sound as if they are in the back, the guitars and bass hide underneath and Graham’s voice towers over everything, the remaining keyboards add significant substance.
It’s a captivating combination in so many regards, opting to release a successful EP last year and offering enough subtle changes, blended with proven features, Forget the Night Ahead is fantastic. Just peeking into the opener, “Reflection of the Television”, with its brooding patterns and chords, I’m sure it won’t be long until this album has others in tears as well.