Considering the number of prominent Glaswegian indie bands over the years it’s remarkable how few of them sound Scottish. You could a stand a spoon up inside the treacle thickness of Aidan Moffat’s (Arab Strap) voice, but Primal Scream, or Belle & Sebastian? Not so easily pinned to the map. The Twilight Sad’s James Graham sings with a rich and unmistakeable burr – it’s one thing that sets the band apart. Perhaps the only thing.
Our old friend “industry buzz” has pledged to us an album of transcendent guitar noise welded like a rusting scaffold to quivering, dawn-fragile melancholia: My Bloody Valentine meets Felt in some all-star Celtic C-86 fantasy land. Unfortunately not.
The Twilight Sad put their best foot forward with opener ‘Cold Days From the Birdhouse’. It’s a heartbroken-turned-cloudbusting ballad, beginning with a feeble, lonely piano note before unleashing full colour come the second chorus, guitars whooping and growling, drum kit thrashing about. Perfectly predictable yet perfectly formed, it’s hard to fault. If somebody cooks you a nice chocolate cake are you going to complain, just because you’ve eaten chocolate cake before?
But from there on things fall flatter. Despite the evocative, micro-fiction titles – ‘Walking For Two Hours’, ‘Talking With Fireworks/Here It Never Snowed’ – these songs grasp at nothing in particular, built upon simple lyrical phrases that never quite take off. ‘Talking With Fireworks’ ramps up the Scottishness a good notch, marrying a marching rhythm like the Edinburgh Tattoo to a folk song melody. Intermittently it explodes into a massive cloud of buzzing guitar – sounds great on paper, and yet I am unmoved.
The Twilight Sad remind me a great deal of Melbourne band Gersey – the same penchant for sky-high dynamics and a blustering kind of beauty. Like Gersey, I suspect they’d be an outstanding live band, but as a document their songs go cold.