Tragic, brutal, effectively scary, and also The Twilight Sad’s most accessible album.
The Twilight Sad’s third album No One Can Ever Know finds the band adding a more synth-based sound to their music. And before you start rolling your eyes, thinking that they’re going soft, the sonic shift expands on Twilight Sad’s grim personality. No moments of joy ever feel present on No One Can Ever Know. James Graham’s vocals are mysterious, yet they hint at tragedy, murder, and sexual perverseness. As strange as it may sound, No One Can Ever Know is also the band’s most accessible album.
Building their two previous albums in walls of noise, No One Can Ever Know feels more open, and Graham’s voice has a chance to be heard. Though his Scottish accent is thick, distinguishing what he’s saying is not as difficult. You may still reach for a lyrics sheet (*raises hand*), but you’ll find no concrete details of explanation behind any of the songs’ meanings. Graham sounds angry and violently intimidating throughout No One Can Ever Know, lashing out at an unidentified ‘you’. The effect is scary. Graham seems to be acting out Nick Cave fantasies. There’s regrettable sexual kinkiness in “Kill It In The Morning” and a questionable death in “Nil”.
Graham’s intensity is matched by Andy MacFarlane and producer Andrew Weatherall’s toying with analog synthesizers. MacFarlane’s guitar playing remains intact, though, it’s not as prominent as the group’s earlier albums. Mark Devine’s drumming pushes the songs to thrilling climaxes, and in combination with Graham’s oft repeated lyrics, connecting with the band on an emotional level comes easy. The name-dropping of Radiohead and Depeche Mode flourishes for No One… is justified, but I was also reminded of the complexity behind Crystal Castles II. Even with its brutal and tragic theme, No One… contains the most potential singles of the band’s career.
No One Can Ever Know opens an interesting new direction for The Twilight Sad. No longer sounding cramped by the noisy abundance surrounding them, the band has created an album you’ll want to play lyrical forensics with and enjoy when you have a desire for a moody listen.
Purchase: The Twilight Sad – No One Can Ever Know