Monday, April 16, 2007

Reviews:: The Twilight Sad Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters


I’m going to be completely honest with you. Up until about a week ago, I had never heard of the Twilight Sad. I read a quick review on I Rock Cleveland, noted that it was something I should check out and kind of moved on. Anyone who’s seen me play hoops knows effort is the key limiting factor in my game, so I forgot about it and when I remembered, the praise for the record - Fourteen Autumns, and Fifteen Winters - was everywhere (including the coveted best new music award).

From the opening notes of Cold Days From The Birdhouse, I was intrigued. It’s a nice feeling to be drawn in from a simple repeated piano note and some fuzz. Graham’s voice booms through and the Glasgow native takes the roll of front man perfectly. Then it happened. Twilight Sad became my latest obsession at 2:29 second of the first song. The swell of sounds; crashing drums, guitar textures and strings. As Graham sings, “Your red sky at night” over and over, the energy just builds. It’s like one of those engines in a bad movie. You wonder if it can withstand the pressure.

It would be so easy to start tossing out comparisons after less than one song – the quiet, loud, quiet style fits directly into everything I love about Mogwai – but this song stands out. Never once does the collection of sounds overpower the melody. I was tempted to listen to the song over and over again without letting the rest of the disk play.

That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy starts in much the same fashion. A nice drum beat and some atmospheric guitar work are simply the garnish on the lyrics about the teenage pain most feel, but the gradual swell is done so seamlessly you barely notice the other sounds (the accordion is gorgeous) getting added to the mix before the band hits you with another crescendo. Graham’s vocal stretch to an anger filled sing/scream as the song continues to push forward. What I really love about Graham’s delivery is it always seems to mirror the emotion of the notes being played. He is comfortable simply telling a story, but fluctuates freely between anger and clear thought.

The band presents a surprising amount of range. All too often people assumed that if you add ingredients you like, the recipe will be a success. A cup of swirling, fuzzed out guitars, two tablespoons of drums, and a heavy seasoning of moving from quiet to loud with slow builds. It seems so easy, but most bands who try to put their own spin on this recipe fall short. Twilight Sad shows its skill on tracks like Last Years Rain Didn't Fall Quite So Hard. Instead of trying to force an epic sound, they are quite comfortable using minimal sounds and simply letting them develop.

For the majority of the three minutes, the song is simply a piano chord, some background guitar sounds to help set the mood, and Graham’s vocals. If they had tried to build the song into something, it would have ruined the song. They clearly have a great understanding of the sounds they present, because the slow atmospheric track is quickly replaced with a frantic collage of sounds on Talking With Fireworks/Here, It Never Snowed.

The record comes to a fitting close with the marching band snare riff of Fourteen Autumns And Fifteen Winters. The sonic explosion of the previous 8-songs leaves you exhausted and somehow refreshed at the same time. The reflective tone of the instrumental track gives you a chance to absorb what you’ve just been through without unnecessarily assaulting your ears one last time. Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters is the perfect amount of energy, crescendos, uncertainty, confusion, rage, and relaxed moments to accurately describe the live of an frustratingly average teenager – which is what makes this record stand out so much.

MP3:: Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Video:: Cold Days from the Birdhouse

Posted at 12:22 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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