[Text/Photos by Andrew Parks; slideshow available here]
There’s something about The Twilight Sad; something that makes us root for them more than any other up-and-coming band these days. Come to think of it, the reason is simple: more than two years after the release of their full-length debut, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, we still listen to the damn thing. At least once a month. Repeatedly. Being based in Brooklyn, the band’s bombastic approach suits our daily subway rides well, making self-titled feel like we’re the lead in an melodramatic music video, shot on the L line with lots of quick cuts and sepia-toned mood lighting.
Beyond that, a song like “That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy” makes us shudder and shake almost as much as the group’s awkward singer (James Graham) does onstage. Awkward in a forgivable way, mind you, as if Graham didn’t choose the spotlight. He was simply shoved into it as soon as everyone took notice of his booming Scottish lilt and pitch-dark lyrics like “and does your fear not grow/when you see that you’re all mine/see that you’re all mine/with a knife in your chest.” Watching a guy deliver a line that twisted with utter sincerity–his id fully exposed, his back turned ever so slightly, and his hands gripping a mic for dear life–well, that sort of stuff sticks with you.
Of course, it helps that guitarist Andy MacFarlane smears every syllable in dollops of feedback and careening chords, leading drummer Mark Devine and bassist Craig Orzel down a path that’s louder, and arguably more visceral, than their countrymen Mogwai. And just when you think they’ve gone soft, introducing an alternate version of “Cold Days From the Birdhouse,” the set closer erupts into its original incarnation, eventually leaving a trail of decimated notes in its wake…