The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

The Twilight Sad - Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave

by David Bruggink Rating:8 Release Date:2014-10-28
The Twilight Sad have always traded in terse, sober declarations - "The neighbours can't breathe"; "there's people downstairs"; "she's lying on the road" - the vagueness of which was nevertheless made haunting and personal when conveyed through the rugged brogue of James Graham. As subsequent releases moved beyond their initial leanings toward bucolic post-rock, it was exciting to see what kind of new setting that unique voice would be placed within, whether hard-edged, stripped-down indie-rock (Forget the Night Ahead), or dissonant post-punk and cold wave (No One Can Ever Know). Now with their fourth full-length release, listeners are no doubt wondering which sonic direction the band will take, given their prior success at pulling off somewhat radical stylistic shifts. 
In fact, Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave doesn't take the band's sound in different directions so much as further refine the success they've already had at delving into new styles. The pitch-bending shoegaze guitars of Forget the Night Ahead can be found here, as well as the textural depth of the synthesizers of No One Can Ever Know. 
However, the melodies are now more easily grasped, sometimes swelling to stadium-sized moments made all the more catchy by Graham's trademark repetitive vocal lines, finally seizing fully on their inherent suitability as anthemic singalongs ("She keeps on calling me/ I don't know where" on 'I Could Give You All That You Don't Want'). Powerful guitars are balanced by gossamer synthesizers ('Last January'), and chugging, distorted bass is offset by wobbling, dream pop keyboards and dramatic piano ('There's a Girl in the Corner').
What this heightened focus and accessibility amount to is an album that places The Twilight Sad significantly closer to their more populist contemporaries, such as Frightened Rabbit and The National. Where they had previously seemed to revel at times in their avoidance of choruses with big payoffs, this album sees quite a number of these cathartic moments cropping up, mostly with very positive results. 'I Could Give You All That You Don't Want,'  'Last January,' and 'There's a Girl in the Corner' are some of their strongest, most engaging songs to date, while the less assertive tracks, like 'Pills I Swallow,' demonstrate the band's use of colorful instrumentation and layered melodies to enhance a song with a slower tempo.
This approach only falters slightly. The refrain of 'It Never Was the Same' is disappointingly monotonous and unembellished, sandwiched between two songs that are more sonically and lyrically compelling. The title track is memorable for its use of a horn section, but that instrumentation feels oddly regal in a song that's otherwise defined by guitar straight from My Bloody Valentine's playbook.
Longtime fans may be upset by The Twilight Sad's increasing accessibility, and what it means for albums to come. But Nobody Wants to Be Here... sees the band continuing to develop their strengths for writing gripping melodies and distinguishing themselves with a diverse sound palette.

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